- Associated Press - Sunday, November 23, 2014

LEXINGTON, N.C. (AP) - Like the hand-tied knots that bind the edges of the blankets they’ve made, tragedy in the lives of two women brought about not only community outreach projects but also a close-knit group at Fairmont Presbyterian Church on Cotton Grove Road.

“This has really been a shot in the arm for our church,” said pastor Randy Hall, referring to church members who began gathering about three months ago to exchange ideas of charitable concern. “My only role has been that of a cheerleader.”

It all started with a hug.

Shirley Truelove had never met fellow parishioner Karen Everhart, a newcomer to the church about a year ago. During a service, Hall asked for prayers for Everhart. She had lost her daughter - her only child - to an overdose of heroin.

Brittany was 18. Her future was promising. She graduated at the top of her high school class. She was a cheerleader and involved in several other extracurricular activities.

“I knew exactly what to do,” Truelove recalls. “I walked over to her, wrapped my arms around her and said, ‘I know how you feel.’”

Truelove knew the sense of loss because her youngest of two sons, Scott, was killed in a car accident in 1986 when he was 17. “He was my baby,” she said.

“People say ‘I know how you feel,’ but they don’t unless they’ve lost a child.”

From the moment of their initial interaction, Everhart and Truelove grew closer as friends and began talking about things they and other church members could do to help others. After all, immersing themselves in benevolent endeavors would be helpful to mind, body and spirit.

“It was just one of those stories. We instantly formed a relationship,” Truelove recalls.

Everhart was double struck with tragedy. Just a year prior to her daughter’s death, she lost her husband to a brain tumor. She believes that could have been a pivotal time for Brittany, who may have turned to drugs to ease the pain of losing her father.

“She may have been looking at different ways to cope, and I guess that’s what happened. She got into the wrong crowd and everything changed,” Everhart said. “In a year and nine months, I lost my whole family. You either give up or you have to decide you’re not going to wallow in depression.”

Tossing around ideas for projects at church, Everhart suggested making the colorful handmade fleece prayer blankets like she had made as a hobby and giving them to needy people.

From a half dozen, 10 to 12, numbers within the group grew as women at the church joined to tie the frayed edges of the fleece material together and create what is known as knotted blankets.

However, it became more than just of a time of blanket-making, as Hall describes.

“This is remindful of the old-timey quilting bees of another day,” he said. “They gathered and socialized and talked about their lives. That met the need for camaraderie and friendships. It’s very much done the same thing for the women at our church.

“I’m very proud of the women at our church for looking for some need in our community and responding to it.”

The women from Fairmont Presbyterian presented 13 elderly residents at Carolina House with blankets Monday. They were donated in memory of Lucille Williams, who was a member at Fairmont and resident of Carolina House. Another 13 blankets will be donated to Family Services of Davidson County for the children of abused women who have entered the shelter. They will be given in memory of Everhart’s daughter, Brittany.

Appropriately on All Saints Day on Sunday, church members dedicated the blankets during a service prior to delivering them.

“The older folks were just so thankful,” Truelove said. “They look at you like, ‘why are you doing this for me?’”

Other projects are in the works within the group, such as baskets with personal hygiene items for women who are victims of domestic violence and stockings with toys, which will be given to the Salvation Army.

“A lot of women have to leave their homes in the middle of the night without anything,” Everhart said. “Just some comfort things would be nice to have, things like shampoo.

“For some kids, those stockings with toys will be the only presents they will have for Christmas.”

___

Information from: The Dispatch, https://www.the-dispatch.com


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