Group provides recycled products for those in need around the world
By Robert Williams
Lutheran Women’s Missionary League Mission Chairperson Joan Ketter is looking to get “Mission Mondays” back to a participation level it was prior to the pandemic. ¶ “We’re just getting started again; we were very, very active,” Ketter said. “We probably had 12-15 coming every Monday and then of course, with COVID, we quit for a year or two.” ¶ The Monday gathering from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. is to fulfill the wish list of Orphan Grain Train, a Christian volunteer network that ships donated food, clothing, medical and other needed items to people in 71 different countries including the United States. ¶ The mission operates out of Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Frazee, but volunteers can be from any faith and from anywhere. ¶ “Mission Monday is open to everybody,” Ketter said. “They can be from Frazee, Perham, Detroit Lakes, wherever, anybody that is interested in working on mission projects.”
Restarting the full process of getting the mission back up and running was something Ketter had to ponder in regards to her personal time.
“I got to thinking, do I need to do this every Monday? It takes most of my Sunday just preparing stuff,” she said.
Ketter does much of the prep work for many of the projects that allow volunteers to come in and complete those projects.
“We have quite a list of things we can do on Mission Monday,” she said.
The Orphan Grain Train wish list provides a wide variety of projects to work on and requests that vary from prayer to basic necessities, many of which the Mission Monday participants make from regular household items.
Some of the transformations are astounding, like dresses for girls made out of pillowcases and sleeping mats created from plastic grocery bags.
The bags are flattened and folded, then cut into strips, fastened together into a long string and then balled, like yarn, and the mats are crocheted out of the plastic.
“Some people don’t have a bed to sleep on and they’re just so pleased to have something like this,” said Ketter.
Ketter has found that accumulating bags from different stores allow for different colors to be used to make the pads, while many are multi-colored from an array of different store’s bags.
The plastic bags mat projects are extremely time-consuming.
“Just for a ball, it takes me about four hours, and you need about eight of those balls to make one pad, and then somebody has to crochet them,” said Ketter. “I’ve got six of them ready to go at home right now.”
Another major project in Frazee is making bandages from bed sheets. Typically, the sheets are donated from area hotels. The end product comes out resembling a regular roll of gauze bandage.
Volunteers with sewing specialties are making diapers out of T-shirts, that resemble cloth diapers upon completion.
The group also collects donations of medical pill bottles that are sanitized with stickers removed.
“Usually, we don’t know where they go, but our pill bottles were going to Liberia,” Ketter said. “Sometimes, there is a call for them in war torn areas, and of course they want the bandages. I have sent 11 apple boxes and 10 the second time, 3,400 bottles total. We just had a rally and people brought garbage bags full.”
Everything that is donated to Orphan Grain Train is stored in apple boxes to assure space uniformity and efficiency during shipping.
Ketter has an entire room in her house dedicated to the projects and it has become part of her living room. She has even gotten her husband Kenny involved.
“He is getting into it,” she said. “I was telling him the other day. Now, we have a call from Israel that they are looking for clothes again. We ended up cleaning out a closet. He was in the mood and I thought we’ve got to do it right now.”
With more war zones popping up around the world, many of Orphan Grain Train’s requests are for necessities specific to those areas. The mission group just finished a donation drive for Ukraine. Sometimes, the needs are for anything.
“They want blankets and children’s clothes and well, everything; they have nothing,” said Ketter. “It can be a mammoth job; we just pick a few things that we can do.”
The Sunday congregation chips in for the cause as well.
“We have clothing drives like Undie Sundays, where people bring packages of new underclothes or socks, or Sunday drives for school supplies,” Ketter said.
While many of the projects can be and are done at home, Ketter emphasized inviting former members and especially new members to the group who want to get involved and join Mission Mondays at Bethlehem Lutheran Church.
“A lot of people need that fellowship,” said Ketter. “Mission Monday is open to anyone who would like to work on the projects.”
Monday meetings are from 9 am. to 12 p.m., as are the Wednesday quilters meetings.
More information on Orphan Grain Train, including the wish list, can be found at www.ogt.org.
Bethlehem Lutheran Church is located on the 200 block of Maple Avenue East in Frazee.