by Carol Cowdrey
Special to The Leaven
OVERLAND PARK — Jane Godar Kreiter, a parishioner at Church of the Ascension here, learned to knit when she was 16 years old.
She taught herself to crochet when she was in her 20s, making afghans for family and friends.
She never imagined, however, that her hobby would become a meaningful gift for those at the end of life.
Twelve years ago, Godar Kreiter’s parents moved to the Veterans Affairs nursing home in Marshalltown, Iowa. Her mom noticed the loneliness of those around her.
“She asked if I would make lap afghans that she could pass out to those who she felt needed their day brightened by a little act of kindness,” she said.
After her parents died, Godar Kreiter continued to make afghans for the VA hospital until she moved to Overland Park. Years later, she attended an informational senior fair and stopped by the Catholic Community Hospice booth.
After asking if they had any use for lap afghans, she was put in touch with the organization’s director of volunteer recruitment and training, Bonnie Krause.
Since then, she’s made more than 200 lap afghans for hospice patients. The afghans are just the right size — wide enough across the middle to cover those sitting in a chair, and long enough to reach from mid-chest to feet.
Anytime Godar Kreiter is running short on yarn, Krause provides her bags of yarn donated to TurnStyles thrift stores.
“It’s a labor of love,” said Godar Kreiter. “Sometimes, I’ll start out with a color in mind and then I’ll change it. Later, I’ll hear that the one I chose turned out to be a particular hospice patient’s favorite color.
“That’s what I call divine intervention.”
Godar Kreiter prays as she crochets each afghan.
“I think about the patient and their family, and I say prayers for them,” she said. “I hope the afghan brings them comfort and that they enjoy it as much as I did making it.”
Godar Kreiter spends about 30 hours on average making an afghan a week. Her husband, Mike Kreiter, who volunteers at one of Catholic Charities’ food pantries, delivers a handmade afghan to Catholic Community Hospice every Monday.
Volunteers Barb Riley and Sherman Zimmerman enjoy giving them out to hospice patients.
“It gives our patients comfort knowing that we thought of them to give them an unexpected gift,” said Riley. “When they receive it, they are elated and can get quite emotional about it.”
The hospice patients aren’t the only ones who appreciate the afghans. Family members cherish them as keepsakes following the death of their loved ones.
Godar Kreiter plans to continue making lap afghans for Catholic Community Hospice as long as her hands — and the yarn supply — last. But she is only one of the many volunteers who donate their time and talents to Catholic Community Hospice.
“We are blessed to have such generous volunteers from our parishes who use their God-given gifts to support our hospice ministry,” said Krause.