Fairlawn Mennonite hosting Ohio MCC Comforter Bash

Fairlawn Mennonite hosting Ohio MCC Comforter Bash
Jennifer Steiner

Caleb Pearce, left, and Ken Neuenschwander work together to knot a comforter at the 2023 Ohio MCC Comforter Bash. Throughout two days on March 8-9, volunteers will gather at Fairlawn Mennonite Church for the 2024 event knotting comforters for MCC.


Individuals and groups from Northeast Ohio will gather March 8-9 for a hands-on project to bring warmth and comfort to people they will likely never meet.

The Ohio MCC Comforter Bash will take place Friday, March 8 from 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday, March 9 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Fairlawn Mennonite Church, 8520 Emerson Road, Apple Creek. Food will be available by donation throughout the days.

Participants will work together to combine handmade comforter tops, warm batting and sturdy backing fabric into comforters. The squares of fabric that make up the comforter tops have already been sewn together, so volunteers will primarily knot the layers together.

Organizers have a goal of making 250 comforters over the two-day event. Each handmade comforter is unique and provides not only warmth, but also a tangible message to people that their needs are not forgotten. Sarah Doerksen, MCC Great Lakes Ohio material resources coordinator, said making someone a handmade comforter may seem like a small thing, but the impact is priceless.

This is the fourth Comforter Bash held in Northeast Ohio. Last year volunteers knotted 220 comforters over two days. The inaugural event took place in January 2020 as part of MCC’s Great Winter Warm-up with events across the U.S., Canada and beyond. The Ohio event was postponed in 2021 but has grown each year since then.

“Last year we had many young families participate in the comforter knotting who appreciated a local service opportunity that they could do as a family,” Doerksen said. “We also had a great outpouring of support from both the Amish and Mennonite communities, though you don’t have to be Amish or Mennonite to come and learn how to knot a comforter to help those in need around the world.”

The event is being held at a new location in 2024, Fairlawn Mennonite Church. The previous location in Kidron was already booked for spring weekends.

“We hope that people are still willing to travel the extra few miles to volunteer,” Doerksen said. “We’ve had volunteers participate from several hours away and even a few that traveled from other states to join in the fun.”

Last year MCC shipped 59,277 comforters to communities in Ecuador, Guatemala, Haiti, Iraq, Jordan, Malawi, Syria, Ukraine, Zambia, Canada and the U.S. including Puerto Rico.

Doerksen had the opportunity to travel to Zambia in Southern Africa this fall with MCC to meet some of the people who received these comforters.

“It was very impactful to meet firsthand recipients of MCC comforters,” Doerksen said. “We visited the Pure Hope Children’s Home in the Meheba Refugee Camp, where 21 children live in Zambia. Some have been orphaned while others come from vulnerable family situations.”

After the group had finished eating together, the children were excited to show the MCC visitors the dormitory rooms where MCC comforters were being used on their bunk beds.

“One of the boys, an 11-year-old named Gift, was especially delighted to show me his bunk,” Doerksen said. “He had been living at the home for two years when I met him.”

The group also met Uwizeyiman Vanessa, who traveled through the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Angola before settling at Meheba. Before receiving her MCC comforter, she used a very thin white sheet and would often wake up at night because she was cold. Now with the comforter, she said she is nice and warm, adding she sometimes sleeps in because she is so cozy. “Whatever you can provide, I am very grateful,” she said.

In addition to the comforters, MCC also provides other material resources for people living in the refugee camp including canned meat, school kits and dignity kits.

MCC was founded in 1920 when groups of Mennonites and Mennonite Brethren formed a committee to provide food and other assistance to people affected by war and famine in Southern Russia, which is present-day Ukraine.

Today MCC provides humanitarian relief, encourages sustainable development and strengthens peace-building initiatives in 45 countries. Comforters and blankets have been part of MCC’s relief resources ever since the end of World War II.

Organizers invite people of all ages and abilities to join the Comforter Bash. No experience is necessary, and all supplies and instruction will be provided.

More information can be found at www.mcc.org/ohio-comforter-bash.

Jennifer Steiner is the MCC Great Lakes communications coordinator.

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