As I sit in the middle of the cold winter months, I often think about our neighbors that are experiencing the cold differently than my family and me. I think about our neighbors who can’t afford to keep their furnace set at 72 degrees all day long; our neighbors who spend cold winter nights in their car because they don’t have a house to go home to; our neighbors who sleep on a park bench or under a bridge.
These are also the times that I think about the impact a simple blanket can make on the spirit of our neighbors in these situations.
The CWS Blanket ministry is an easy way for churches to participate in a broad-reaching mission to provide our neighbors that are experiencing poverty, displacement or disaster with a warm blanket to comfort them in their time of need.
Many churches, like First United Methodist Church in Cedar Falls, IA, make the CWS Blanket Ministry their January mission focus. “We continue with this program because it is a tangible way to help someone with a basic need,” says missions coordinator Lisa Congdon. “Most of our promotion is simply done by telling of the need on the back of our weekly bulletins and by utilizing a fairly large and prominent spot in our main entrance for information about the mission.” Lisa creates a display in the church’s front entrance using CWS blankets, a poster and offering envelopes. She also incorporates a way to keep the congregation updated on the amount given throughout the month – “I hang another heavy blanket on the wall and keep track of the amount donated by pinning a colorful felt square on the blanket in a quilt-like pattern.”
Fun challenges are a great way for any church to start or revive a CWS Blanket ministry. For example, First Congregational Church in Columbus, Ohio challenged each member of their congregation to buy a blanket in honor of someone they loved for Valentine’s Day. “This is a wonderful way to give the members of our congregation the opportunity to help keep people warm throughout the winter. I know of several ministries in the Columbus area that use CWS Blankets to distribute to people in need,” said mission committee chair Anne Hudson. Another church in Michigan challenged their members to purchase one CWS Blanket for every blanket they have in their home. Challenges like these help congregations become emotionally connected to the mission and identify with the need.
When Indianapolis was hit with extreme cold last winter, members of Central Christian Church opened their doors each night to their neighbors who needed shelter from the cold. These neighbors were given CWS Blankets, which helped provide comfort, warmth and hope. Blanket Sundays from churches across the U.S. make this mission possible. “It is because of your generosity that we are able to touch the lives of our homeless neighbors,” said Pastor Linda McCrae to all congregations that participate.
Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and many churches will be celebrating Blanket Sunday soon. As you prepare for yours, I encourage you to visit cwsblankets.org where you can order materials and find other simple ideas for hosting a successful Blanket Sunday. Let’s all join together and “Blanket the world with LOVE this Valentine’s Day!”
Lenny Blue is a CWS Community Event and Congregation Specialist.