“It all started when my granddaughter was diagnosed with cancer,” said Katherine Oldenberg.
“Her co-workers at River Hills Bank made her shirts with snaps so she could easily access her port for treatment. I said, ‘I can take this idea and help others.’”
There was only one problem: Oldenberg doesn’t sew.
She recruited church members from Bovina Baptist Church to aid in her mission to help others. Soon, members of other area churches joined the brigade of seniors on a mission to help those suffering from illnesses that require picc lines, ports, drains or feeding tubes to access their ports in a more comfortable and modest manner. The plastic snaps are also safe for MRIs and PET scans.
Oldenberg takes a patient’s information and determines whether the shirts need to be redesigned by adding snaps on the shoulders or the sides. She normally cuts the seams before the shirts are passed off to other team members.
Nancy Hilderbrand, Pat Johnson, Gene Kelly, Bettie Lee and Linda Carley cut and pin bias tape to each shirt to re-enforce the area that was cut. Then Susan Beard and Margo Martin sew the tape.
The work then goes to Eugene Perrine, Bill Madison, Jerry and Patrica Lewis, along with Jim and Betty Daquailla, the group that puts the snaps on the shirts. Finally, Oldenberg adds a “Jesus Loves You” emblem to each shirt.
The group meets a couple of times a week to work on shirts and fellowship. Since last July, they have hand-delivered or mailed 662 shirts to 37 states, three Canadian provinces, Australia and Russia.
Jackson Oncology Associates, the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson and Medical Associates of Vicksburg have discovered the shirts help their patients through a very trying time.
Oldenberg recently discovered another use for them when her sister broke her arm. Having snaps on the side with the broken arm allowed her to get dressed much easier.
Raymond Phillips at Hobby Lobby has been an integral part of the ministry’s success.
“He lets us know when items we use are going to be on sale,” Oldenberg said. “The group has found that Gilden shirts work the best, which Hobby Lobby carries.”
There is never a charge for a Caring Shirt. Generous donors have funded the shirts, supplies and postage. Love offerings from Bovina Baptist Church have funded their efforts along with private donations.
“It really hits you when you work on a shirt designed for a small child,” said Bill Madison , as he fought back a tear.
For more information visit Caring Shirts on Facebook. Shirts are available in all sizes up to 5XL.