It started simple. The Ladies Circle at Maryville Evangelical Church began by crocheting blankets. They expanded their repertoire to dolls, pouches, baskets and other unique creations. These items not only benefit local charitable organizations, but touch the lives of people worldwide.
“We feel like it’s important to do some things that reach out to the community in the name of Christ,” said Dot Schubert, one of the founding Ladies Circle’s members.
The Ladies Circle began by making things like rolled bandages, layettes and scripture cards for missionaries who worked in a hospital in the Conga. Then Lillian Moland, one of the Ladies Circle’s founding members, met someone who made blankets for East Tennessee Children’s Hospital in Knoxville. Moland learned how to make the blankets, and then taught other Ladies Circle members how to make them.
The ladies’ handiwork goes to other organizations within the community, like Haven House, Family Promise, the Blount County Boy’s Home and the Blount County Girl’s Home.
It was at a November meeting of the Ladies Circle when they had an opportunity to visit with Bruce and Linda Farrant, missionaries who take their handmade gifts to Native American communities in the United States.
The Farrants explained why and how the Ladies Circle’s handmade gifts and blankets impact the Native American communities they visit throughout the year.
“They know people in the community wanted to give a handmade gift,” Linda Farrant said. “It transcends cultures.”
Bruce Farrant added that by giving handmade gifts, they show that they truly understand their culture. One of the handmade gifts that was a hit with all the children were the bean bags and the knit dolls. Last year alone, the Ladies Circle made 84 knit dolls, each one unique.
“I want to do things that help other people,” said Bev Dalia, a Ladies Circle member who joined the group when she recently retired as a school counselor. She confided that she never crocheted before joining the Circle.
“Dot showed me, and I was determined to learn how.” Dalia is now working on crocheted baskets that can be used in a variety of ways.
Joining Dalia in the crocheted basket efforts is 14-year-old Sarah Metcalf. Metcalf, Dot Schubert’s granddaughter, said she enjoys coming to the twice-monthly meetings.
“Crocheting is my favorite!” Sarah emphatically said. She counts the time she crochets with the Ladies Circle as service time that helps her meet her community service goals as an American Heritage Girl, the Christian-based program similar to Girl Scouts of America.
The group is also a wonderful source of fellowship. “I enjoy getting out and helping people,” said Ladies Circle member, Della Ray. Ray, who has been with the group since its beginning, said she started by making Granny Squares that they use for various projects, like blankets.
Ladies Circle members Mary Brown and Jeanne Schubert work together to roll bandages that go to Samaritan’s Purse, which is an organization that helps victims of war, poverty, natural disaster and disease.
The preparation work that Moland does allows the ladies to accomplish so much in their meetings. She takes donated sheets and cuts them into four-inch strips and sews them together to make one long strip. Metcalf and Dalia use the strips to make baskets. Brown and Jeanne Schubert roll the strips for the bandages.
According to Moland, the Ladies Circle is in need of monetary donations and materials. The group needs fabric, bed sheets and yarn for their projects and would greatly appreciate donations. The materials can be dropped off at Maryville Alcoa Christian Supply Store, 137 North Calderwood Street in Alcoa.
“When God puts something on your hearts, you can do it,” Moland said.