For almost three years, the Bolivar It’s My Very Own (IMVO) chapter, Stitches of Love, has been serving Polk County, Missouri. As of July 5, 2022, the chapter now serves five counties: Barton, Cedar, Dade, Polk and Vernon.
In 2021, the Polk County Department of Social Services distributed 27 quilted bags filled with personal care items, toys, Bibles, quilts and miscellaneous goods to children who were removed from their homes.
The chapter felt they could serve a neighboring county in addition to Polk County. When the chapter went to the social services department in a nearby county, the department asked if they would be willing to add four counties instead of one. The social services department explained that it oversaw four counties and wanted the bags to be available to all the counties the office served. The chapter agreed to add all four counties.
According to Stitches of Love Director Karolyn Booth, she anticipates 20 IMVO bags to be distributed to children in the four new counties within a year.
Stitches of Love operates out of a building located on Bolivar Church member and Stitches of Love Fabric Coordinator Wilma Wittenberg’s property.
“The building had been a woodworking shop. My husband and I had it all remodeled for my sewing room. Well, God had a different plan, because I met Karolyn [Booth],” Wittenberg said.
Booth, who at the time had recently moved to the Bolivar, Missouri area told Wittenberg about her hopes of starting an IMVO chapter. Booth learned about IMVO through 3ABN and an OUTLOOK magazine article. Wittenberg had heard about IMVO too and was interested in making the ministry happen.
Around the same time, Wittenberg had been given lots of fabric from friends who had passed away. She felt that when Booth asked her about IMVO, it must’ve been God-lead.
The chapter later obtained about $10,000 worth of fabric at a garage sale, spending only $400 for it. The shelves that line the walls in Wittenberg’s building are filled with colorful fabric ready to be used for the chapter’s projects.
The chapter runs off donations from the community and local church. Booth estimates that it costs about $85 to create each bag.
“God just seems to provide what we need,” Booth said.
Kathy Holiday, the chapter’s donation coordinator, said the items the chapter needs most are personal hygiene products, diapers, books and art supplies.
“When people give to this organization, they are donating to a child who is being rescued from a bad situation,” Holiday said.
In addition to physical donations, Wittenberg said the chapter is always looking for volunteers to donate time.
“We need just about every type of talent there is,” Wittenberg said. “But I think our biggest need is people that can finish quilts.”
The chapter currently has six regular volunteers. With the addition of four counties, the chapter is looking to expand the number of volunteers. The chapter invites anyone to volunteer, regardless of religious background.
“We’re trying to involve the community all the time,” Booth said.
The Polk County Department of Social Services said it is grateful for the service the chapter is providing. Representative Heather Stonestreet said bags have been a big blessing to the children the department helps.
“The bags make a hard time a little easier for the children,” Stonestreet said. “I think the bags are very calming and reassuring and [helps the children] know someone is thinking of them.”
Stitches of Love’s work has also been noticed by IMVO International Director Susan Schnell. The chapter had a virtual interview with Schnell on August 23. This interview was recorded and will later be published on IMVO’s social media pages.
“I really believe that God will bless the chapter as they take on these [four new counties],” Schnell said. “I feel like they will continue to really be blessed and provide what’s needed for those counties. I’m really proud of them.”
The chapter said they feel blessed to be a part of this ministry and pray that God will continue to lead them to positively impact children in their area.
“If our bags give one child a smile or let one child know that somebody cares — that’s all we’re trying to do,” Wittenberg said.
If you are interested in getting involved with the Bolivar IMVO ministry, email email@example.com
If you would like to learn more about IMVO, visit: https://imvo.org/