GENESEO — Norma Lodge, 93, lives by the parable from Matthew 7:12 — "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
"I think that is what the Lord wants us to do — to help others, to be constructive, to be busy and I think you are healthier then, too," she said.
Lodge recently created more than 40 pillowcase dresses to be included in Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes. She has made many similar dresses that have been sent to Haiti with mission teams from her church, Grace United Methodist Church in Geneseo.
"All of the little dresses are not made from pillowcases," she said. "I have lots of material given to me and I also use that for the dresses."
Lodge said she learned sewing in her youth as a member of the Atkinson Helpers 4-H Club where her mother, the late Marion Keag, was a leader.
"When I got married and we had children, we didn’t have much money and sewing was a necessity," she said. "So I made most of the clothes for our eight children."
Lodge also is part of the Azure Circle at the church that creates what they call "ugly quilts" for the homeless. Their name is due to the multitude of fabrics, colors and patterns used to make them, Lodge said. She helped launch the project more than 20 years ago.
At 9 a.m. the first Thursday each month, the quilters meet at the church with the quilts they have made, spending the time tying the layers of fabric.
The 72-inch-square quilts are made in three parts, Lodge explained. A sheet makes up the inside layer. The inside of the quilt is a clean, new or used blanket or mattress pad. The outside is the "ugly" part made by sewing together pieces of scrap material.
"I am hoping that other women will join our group, because we could use more help," said Lodge, who delivers the quilts to Christian Care in Rock Island and Humility of Mary in Davenport. This month she has taken seven quilts to Christian Care. Another eight are headed to Humility of Mary.
Lodge said that, on one of her visits to the Humility of Mary Shelter, a young man helped her carry in the quilts.
"As I was leaving, I noticed one of the quilts placed under the young man’s jacket on a bench inside," she said. "I was glad to see he had chosen one for himself."
Twice a year her group also makes "goodie cups" with cookies and candy for shut-ins. They also make stuffed animals in January and February to send to Haiti with mission team members.
"Usually we have about 100 — cats, dogs, rabbits and elephants; just a variety," she said.
"It is good to be busy," she said. "These are just small things we can do for others."
Lodge was a choir member at the church until she turned 90 but chose to drop out then "because it just became too difficult." Her entire family enjoyed singing she said, including her late husband, Glenn.
"Singing is something we could do together," she said. "We weren’t rich and that didn’t cost money."