ROCK ISLAND -- Quilt pieces and peace were shared at St. John's Lutheran Church during a week-long "Extreme Quilting" event.
More than 20 church members participated in the March 22-28 project, making 15 quilts. Three more were donated, and all 18 were sent to Lutheran World Relief.
The national organization challenged Lutheran churches to provide 500,000 quilts in a year, St. John's spokeswoman Jenni Venema said.
"I know that other churches do quilting for Lutheran World Relief, but I don't think any of them do it for a straight week in a marathon quilting session," she said.
Most materials are donated, said colleague Margaret Tweet, who made many forays to Goodwill to get sheets to use as quilt fillers and backings.
Quilts measure 60-by-80 inches. They will be sent to a warehouse in Elgin, before going to a Maryland distribution center to be prepared to go wherever in the world they're needed, Mrs. Tweet said.
In January, Lutheran World Relief sent 26,000 quilts to the Philippines for victims of Typhoon Haiyan, Ms. Venema said.
Last year, she said quilts were sent to Chad, Tanzania, Burkina Faso, Thailand, Serbia, India, Japan, Lebanon and Jordan.
"Some are for emergency response, such as in the Philippines," Mrs. Tweet said.
Others are destined to needy countries such as Africa, where quilts are used in multiple ways, such as bedding, bags or as room dividers in tents, she said.
Quilts also get used as baby carriers, in vegetable market displays, sunshades and shawls, according to lwr.org. Quilts are "Tied in Faith. Sent in Hope. Wrapped in Love," it stated.
Videos of quilt distributions are tremendously inspiring, Mrs. Tweet said. People who get them have the biggest smiles and are excited that "someone would make them something like that," she said.
Big smiles also were seen around St. John's quilting tables, Mrs. Tweet said. "It's more fun being around a group of people than it is sitting in a room by myself making a quilt."
It's also a lot of fun to see how much more people can accomplish as a group, church member Joann Dennis said. "It's like, 'wow,' look at all we got finished today."
People didn't need to know how to sew to help with the quilts, Ms. Venema said, adding that anyone was welcome to help iron, cut fabric, pin quilt tops or tie knots.
By the end of February, there were 401,931 quilts, with more still to be processed, according to the website.
"That means that hundreds of thousands of people around the world will be wrapped in tangible symbols of God's love," the site said. "Thousands of people here in the United States discovered the joy of serving their neighbors through quilting. Bonds have been created, renewed and strengthened, and ministries have flourished."