Jenny Fuchs has been croche-ting toy dolls and prayer blankets for patients undergoing cancer treatment for a couple of years. And the parishioner of St. Aloysius Church in Pewee Valley, Ky., has no plans to stop any time soon.
The idea was born in July, 2010, when Fuchs had just begun chemotherapy treatment for breast cancer. The mother
of three and grandmother of four received a prayer shawl and a prayer blanket as part of a parish ministry.
“Those really made me feel good. You expect support from your family but when you receive something like that from a stranger it really makes you think,” Fuchs said.
Fuchs had previously made a few prayer blankets here and there but began to seriously consider making more items to donate when her daughter mentioned that the Befriender Ministry (an archdiocesan program where lay ministers visit patients in hospitals) often visited sick children at Kosair Children’s Hospital. The Befriender Ministry is one of the programs funded by donations to the Catholic Services Appeal.
While undergoing treatment for her own illness, Fuchs began making baby blankets and other items for youngsters at Kosair.
“It took my mind off what I was going through and I just thought about how I felt about the blankets I got,” she said. “It makes you feel really good to know someone is thinking and praying for you.”
Fuchs, who describes herself as someone who has “never been the kind of person to just sit around,” expanded her repertoire to include crocheted dolls and teddy bears earlier this year.
“I also make clothes, hats and shoes for the dolls. I just think about a little girl taking off the hat and the doll is bald like she is. To me that was the hard part (about treatment) — losing my hair,” she said.
Fuchs, who does not know who receives the blankets and dolls she makes, said she works on the items “all the time.”
“I usually keep two or three things going at one time. When you are retired, you have a lot of free time,” Fuchs said.
Fuchs estimated that she has made more than 50 blankets and probably “five or six dolls and four or five teddy bears.”
The dolls take anywhere from four to six hours to complete, plus the time it takes to make the clothing and accessories, Fuchs said.
Fuchs, who has been cancer free for more than two years, said she gets a great deal of joy out of making the items.
“It’s just kind of peaceful making them. I sit there and think (about the person who will receive it) and hope it makes them happy and that they get some kind of warmth out of it like I did,” she said.
The blankets and dolls are distributed as part of the Befriender Ministry, said Michelle Herberger, coordinator of pastoral care ministries for the Archdiocese of Louisville.
When a child is given a doll or bear, the Befriender minister tells the child that someone made the doll especially for them, Herberger said.
“The children as well as their families are also told that they are being held in prayer by that person as well as the Catholic community as a whole,” she said.
The dolls and bears are for patients between the ages of two and 10, Herberger noted.
Herberger called Fuchs a “remarkable woman” and praised her crochet ministry.
“She has experienced God’s love and wishes to give to others from that place of faith,” Herberger said.