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Throws of Love
For the past 6 years, I have coordinated collection and delivered lightweight and washable throw blankets to those in need for the Throws of Love project in New Jersey. In my role as an Area Chair, and with the help of fellow members of all 9 societies of the Elizabeth Area Women’s Missionary Society of the African Methodist Episcopal Church (WMS), we have been able to collect and hand deliver throw blankets to patients in need who are being treated for various different conditions and are at different stages in their lives with the goal of making people smile.
During the first year of this program, the women of the WMS personally delivered 200 throws to individuals who were in hospice care facilities in the Plainfield, Piscataway, Elizabeth, Rahway, Cranford, New Brunswick, Roselle, South Bound Brook, and Jersey City communities. They would offer conversation, prayer and bring hope to patients by reminding them that they are not alone and that they were being supported by everyone in their community, including strangers.
Six years after the program began, it has grown astronomically, with this year’s throw blanket total reaching over 1,000. The missionaries from the Elizabeth Area Women’s Missionary Society of the African Methodist Episcopal Church in Jersey City have also started to collect crocheted hats to pair with the throw blankets, so those receiving the gifts will have an extra bit of warmth during the colder months.
This past Thanksgiving, the Young People’s Department (YPD) from the African Methodist Episcopal Church in Rahway served lunch to the guests of a local food bank. Sharing what they have in time and resources is a rewarding way to get everyone involved with helping others, so much so that those involved have asked if they can come back every week! The team of volunteers have not only expanded the number of lives they impact each year, but also the different types of locations they visit. In the beginning, they would bring throws to patients in hospice care, now they have expanded to hospitals, food banks and dialysis centers.
Recently, the Throws of Love volunteers visited DaVita Plainfield Dialysis and after that visit, they had officially gifted over 1,500 throw blankets to hospice and dialysis patients. The DaVita dialysis center in Plainfield had a special place in my heart, which made donating throw blankets to the patients who dialyze there even more special. I recently found out that many members of my church receive dialysis treatment at the Plainfield center, which brought awareness about dialysis to the church and the Throws of Love team.
Patient Care Technician Jo Albert Ang appreciated this act of kindness and how it impacted the patients. “During treatments patients sometimes get cold so this gift was even more meaningful. The patients are still talking about it!” Along with fellow church members, I also had a very dear friend who use to receive treatments from a DaVita center, and visiting with dialysis patients in particular makes me feel closer to her friend, even though she is no longer with us.
The volunteers and I work on the basis of surprises. The missionaries get excited when they are able to make a difference. “seeing their faces light up…” is extremely gratifying. We also appreciate the positivity the DaVita teammates have when we comes for visits. The teammates are always happy to see the Throws of Love volunteers walk through the center doors because they know that the patients’ spirits are going to be lifted. The facility administrator, Elizabeth Kerwin says patients at the dialysis center were so happy to get a blanket and have been speaking about it ever since!
The Throws of Love program is expanding and brightening the lives of many who may be struggling during this time of year. From throw blankets, to every day essentials, to a conversation with someone who may not have family close, the members of the Elizabeth Area Women’s Missionary Society of the African Methodist Episcopal Church have created a special place for patients at DaVita Plainfield Dialysis and numerous other hospice, dialysis centers and food banks in their communities.