In 2016, Legacy 685 Director Toni Steere issued a plea to a group of church members to use their specialized talents to help children with anxiety, restlessness, and self-control issues. Toni oversees this ministry at Houston’s First that serves as a resource for families of adopted and foster children throughout the Houston metro area. This particular appeal was to the women of Piecemakers, a quilting group known as much for their big hearts as for their sewing skills.
"I heard about the effectiveness of weighted items like blankets, vests, and dolls filled with beads or pellets to help anxious children learn to self-manage their emotions and behavior," said Toni, "and I knew just the women to call on for help."
Piecemakers is a group of quilters who also sew dresses for orphans and other disadvantaged girls in Cambodia and Guatemala as well as handmade baby quilts for the Pregnancy Care Center near the church. Ann Zallar, a project coordinator for Piecemakers as well as a volunteer dressmaker, said the women were excited to be part of another project that helps children.
“The ladies have made about 35 blankets for Legacy 685 families,” said Ann. “To buy this kind of blanket commercially is rather expensive. One of our members, Terry Toy, found a local supplier for the pellets (weights for the blanket) and it has reduced our cost to make the blankets. We give them to the families.”
As much as children are being helped by using the blankets, Ann says one volunteer, in particular, found that helping with the blankets is promoting healing in her own body. “Our volunteer had brain cancer and part of her physical therapy was sorting objects to sharpen her motor skills,” said Ann. “When she learned that sorting pellets for the blankets was essentially doing physical therapy, she knew God was giving her a chance to be useful even during recovery.”
Deb Wilson has been part of Piecemakers for more than eight years. In addition to sewing blankets for Legacy 685, she personally knew a child that could benefit from one of the blankets.
Deb sewed a blanket featuring green tractors — David’s favorite. The next day his mother couldn’t wait to call Deb and say that for the first time in his life he stayed sound asleep all night. Deb also made a weighted lap blanket for David to take to class. “The teacher said it took about five months, but she began to see a difference in David’s classroom behavior,” said Deb.
Thru the Roof, the special needs ministry at The Loop Campus, also received blankets from Deb. “Daniel (Williams, the ministry’s director) said, ‘I know exactly who’s going to receive one of these blankets,’” said Deb. “It was a boy attending Vacation Bible School; he was able to sit quietly to hear the Bible lesson. I don’t exactly know how the weighted blanket works — but I’ve seen it work!”
God uses all who are willing to make a difference in the lives of others. For more information on volunteering at Houston’s First, talk to staff members at your campus or stop by the Connection Center on Sundays. For more information on weighted blankets, contact Toni.Steere@HoustonsFirst.org.
Also, in 2018, Legacy 685 is celebrating ten years of adoption, foster, and orphan care ministry. Visit their page to discover the wide-reaching impact Legacy 685 has had at Houston's First and far beyond our church.