Betty Mowbray of McPherson does not limit giving to Christmastime.
Nor does she let the limits of her own physical ability stop her from the blessings of this passion.
Every day, the 76-year-old pulls out her yarn and hooks and makes gifts for military persons. Loop by loop, she assembles what she calls prayer shawls, which vary in size from 4-inches by 3-inches to 3-feet by 5-feet.
Once complete, the crafts are given to the War and Peace Quilters of Trinity Lutheran Church. There, the ladies of the group assemble packages, including handmade quilts, that are sent to current and past members in U.S. service. Some are also given to other ministries within the church's denomination.
“I'm trying to give a blessing back as well as receive one,” Mowbray said.
In the past, Mowbray joined the War and Peace Quilters at the church to sew quilts. Ever since 2007, however, her rheumatoid arthritis has prevented her from doing so.
But she didn't let that stop her. In the past year, she realized a need for small prayer shawls and knew it was an alternative way for her to contribute.
“It gives me something to do, which is a blessing, too, when I cannot do the other things I want to do,” she said. “It would be a blessing to me as well as to (the soldiers), because it would take up some of my time and you don't just sit and twiddle your thumbs.”
Each mini prayer shawl takes about one hour to make, which she does while watching TV. The chairs she sits in are also draped with colored crocheted blankets.
She makes about an average of 10 per week, depending on her free time and ability. The yarn she uses comes in all colors, as it is typically donated to the War and Peace Quilters as scraps.
Mowbray and the Quilters sometimes receive responses from those who receive their packages. It is this gratitude, whether voiced or not, that motivate the women to continue their ministry.
“You just hope the prayers that go with it are answered for them,” Mowbray said, noting she thinks about the recipients as she assembles them. “We just hope peace would come one of these days. “It's just heart wrenching to think of what's going on.”
She should know. Mowbray has several veterans in her family, including her half brother, her half-sister and husband, her father, and her husband, Duane.
Duane understands why a handmade gift would be special for a past or present solider.
“I'm sure they would be appreciative,” he said. “I think it puts out to them that there is there (are) people that are concerned about being away from their families. They don't know who made them, they just know there's people back in the United States of America that are trying to do something to encourage them.”