Volunteers create prayer shawls

ELKINS – Facing cancer is a frightening challenge, and a local group of volunteers have been working for nearly a year to help cancer patients in their difficult time by making prayer shawls.

The helping hand concept was developed by Davis Memorial Hospital Auxiliary President Sharon Chenoweth.

“Our group meets about once monthly in the Gorman Avenue lobby of the hospital,” Chenoweth said. “While we are making the prayer shawls, we talk about knitting and pray.”

Chenoweth said the group has a good time getting together.

“We feel blessed and hope those using the shawls feel blessed,” Chenoweth said. “We hope the shawls bring comfort to those who are seeking treatment for cancer.”

The group hopes to expand their items to include making lap robes for men, she said.

While the Cancer Care Center addresses the physical needs of patients, the Davis Memorial Hospital Auxiliary helps provide for their spiritual sides. Nearly two dozen volunteers have hand-knitted and crocheted more than 60 prayer shawls.

A Davis Memorial Hospital chaplain prays over each shawl, and they are provided to cancer patients through either the Cancer Care Center or the Davis House.

“These ladies spend 10 to 12 hours on each one of these,” Valerie Bright, director of volunteer services for Davis Memorial Hospital, said. “We have members of the auxiliary, volunteers and staff members who are participating.”

Each one has a unique design with different styles, borders and colors chosen by the person creating it.

Bright noted that each shawl has a tag sewn on it that says, “Made especially for you by the Davis Memorial Auxiliary.”

The ministry will definitely continue for the long term, she added.

“It’s been a truly wonderful effort that has blessed both those creating them and those who have received them,” Bright said. “People love both making and receiving them.”

A number of thank you cards already have come in from people who received a shawl.

“I was given a beautiful prayer shawl made by your auxiliary and I wanted to thank you,” one note stated. “It is a wonderful thing that you do and a blessing for each of us. May God bless you for your work.”

Bright said a Cancer Care Center nurse shared a story about how the prayer shawls help patients.

“There was a Cancer Care Center patient that ended up in the hospital,” Bright said. “His daughter was curled up in a chair beside him, trying to stay warm. The nurse came back to the center and asked for one of the shawls for the daughter because she felt she needed it.

“The nurse took the prayer shawl to the daughter and she told the nurse she felt better, like God had wrapped his arms around her,” Bright said. “The father recovered, and the daughter passed the prayer shawl on to a friend who was facing cancer. That’s how far-reaching this ministry is.”

Bright said those volunteers and staff who do not knit or crochet have been helping by donating money for the yarn or donating yarn.

“Each prayer shawl is made with Lion brand yarn homespun in 6-ounce skeins,” Bright said. “It takes two skeins to knit a prayer shawl and four skeins to crochet a prayer shawl.”

For more information about volunteering at Davis Memorial Hospital, call 304-637-3896 or e-mail volunteer@davishealthsystem.org.