Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Joyful in service: Supporting a Faribault family at a breakfast & silent auction fundraiser July 26, 2018

WHEN MY FRIEND LISA’S HUSBAND died from complications related to cancer while traveling in Sweden nearly two months ago, I was heartbroken. Heartbroken for my friend and her daughters. But also heartbroken for myself because Michael was my friend. And pastor.


A story I wrote about the fundraiser which published in the Faribault Daily News.


From 9 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. this Sunday, July 29, my faith family, Trinity Lutheran in Faribault, is hosting a breakfast and silent auction fundraiser for the Nirva family. Proceeds will help cover medical and other expenses related to the unexpected death of their husband and father.

We are all called to serve others. I firmly believe that. I am honored to be on the team planning and implementing this fundraiser by handling the publicity and by coordinating the silent auction. The generosity of people donating primarily handcrafted and homegrown items humbles me. I purposely sought donations from creatives at Trinity rather than hit up local businesses. From garden art to garden-fresh bouquets to quilted items, woodcrafts and much more, the variety of auction items showcases a wide range of gifts.

Gifts. That’s an important focus in helping others. Not only will this benefit yield financial gifts. But, perhaps more importantly, it represents a show of love and support for a grieving family. And that is the real gift.


Thrivent Financial is providing seed money for the fundraiser through its Thrivent Action Team Project.


If you live close enough to attend and are moved to help this family, please come for the breakfast of pancakes, scrambled eggs, sausages, fresh fruit and beverages prepared by a caring crew of Trinity folks. (Unfortunately I can’t be there given a previous commitment.)

Give as your compassion moves you and your finances allow. There’s no set price for the meal, but rather a free-will offering.



I also encourage you to check out the silent auction, which opens at 9 a.m. and closes at 11:45 a.m. All 50-plus items will have a cash-and-carry option, meaning you can pay a preset price and the item is yours, no bidding necessary.

In a few days, our crew will be in full pre-fundraiser work mode. Even with use of only one hand, I can write and organize. We each have gifts that we can use in serving others. That’s so important to remember in a time when the world too often seems self-centered and angry and just plain mean. We need to refocus on kindness and goodness and being there for one another.

In the words of Mother Teresa:

Faith in action is love—and love in action is service.

And one more great quote:

Never worry about numbers. Help one person at a time and always start with the person nearest you.

Who can you help today?

© Copyright 2018 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


Stitches of love April 6, 2011

Handmade quilts drape across pews at St. John's United Church of Christ.

INSIDE THE LIMESTONE CHURCH, patchwork quilts drape across the backs of pews, spilling onto cushy red seat cushions.

Only hours earlier during the Sunday morning church service, worshippers settled onto the quilts handmade by St. John’s United Church of Christ members.

On a Saturday in February, members of the Women’s Guild, and a few husbands, gathered at this country church in Wheeling Township in southeastern Rice County to stuff the quilts with batting, add backings and tie together the layers with snippets of yarn.


St. John's old stone church has been in continuous use for more than 150 years. German settlers founded the congregation in 1856.

This year, according to church member and quilter Kim Keller, the quilters made 13 baby quilts and 13 big quilts.

The handmade blankets will go to graduating high school seniors—two at St. John’s this spring—and to missions, mostly local.


One of the many handmade quilts that will be given away.

As I perused the quilts, I considered the devotion of those who piece together the swatches of fabric, tie together the layers and knot the strands of yarn. These quilts represent gifts that touch the recipients physically, but, more importantly, emotionally and perhaps spiritually.

Stroke the fabric and you can almost feel the love stitched into each quilt.

That these blankets are then displayed for worshippers to see, and sit upon, adds another dimension to the project. As I photographed the quilts, as the sun streamed through the church’s restored stained glass windows, I thought of the blessings received by both the givers and the receivers. Joy that comes in selfless giving. Joy that comes in knowing someone cares enough about you and your needs to stitch a quilt.

“It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Acts 20:35

The stained glass windows at St. John's were restored between 2004 - 2006 at a cost of more than $30,000.


A view from the St. John's balcony of the church interior and the quilts.

TEN MILES AWAY in Faribault, about a dozen women at my church, Trinity Lutheran, meet every Wednesday morning from September through May to finish quilts that are donated to those in need. Seamstresses sew the quilt tops at home and then bring them, along with the backings, to church where the Trinity Quilters add the batting and then tie together the layers with yarn.

For 60-plus years now, the women of Trinity have been stitching quilts. “It’s a mission project,”  says long-time quilter Betty Gudknecht. “I want to help other people. You want to do things for the Lord because you want to do it (not because you’re paid).”

With that spirit of giving and serving, the Trinity quilters make about 200 quilts annually. They donate them to places like Minnesota Teen Challenge, the Orphan Grain Train, the Red Cross, Burdens to Blessings, Lutheran World Relief, Lutheran Association of Missionaries and Pilots, and to others in need. Trinity’s graduating high school seniors also receive quilts.

This week the Trinity Quilters are auctioning off three quilts in a silent auction that ends mid-morning on Sunday, April 10. They need the auction money to purchase batting for their 60 x 80-inch quilts. A single roll of recently-purchased cotton batting, which will make 16 quilts, cost $90, and that was at 50 percent off.

In the past, the quilters have gotten creative, using old blankets, mattress pads and even the outsides of electric blankets, as “batting.” They still plan to use those resources, but would also like to use the softer, purchased cotton batting.

While the quilt-makers sometimes buy fabric, most often it is donated.

If you’re interested in bidding on one of the quilts at Trinity Lutheran Church—and I’m sorry, I don’t have photos of the quilts—get your bids in this week.

Cash donations are also being accepted to help the quilters purchase batting.

“It is more blessed to give than to receive.”


The steeple of St. John's United Church of Christ, Wheeling Township, Rice County, Minnesota.

© Copyright 2011 Audrey Kletscher Helbling