SOUTH BELOIT - For some Stateline Area residents, the presents they receive at Christmas seem truly heaven-sent.
Around a dozen women at St. Peters Church have spent all year crocheting gifts in the hope of spreading holiday cheer.
"What we're trying to do is take the talent that God gave us and spread it out to share with others," said parishioner Cindy Godawski.
Godawski and fellow church member Jeanne Pulkrabek co-founded a crochet group called the Mary Undoer of Knots Ministry two and a half years ago.
Neither woman had crochet experience at the time, but the church needed baptismal bibs made. They decided to give it a try, and other parishioners joined in.
"I found the best helper in Mary Undoer of Knots, an image of Jesus' mother surrounded by angels, all of whom are untying the knots of earthly problems," Pulkrabek said of the group's name. "Most of us, being new at crocheting, made a lot of knots, so it seemed appropriate we ask her for help in our endeavor."
It took a lot of practice, but the beautiful baptismal bibs featuring a cross design became reality. The group then began making scarves, prayer shawls and more.
Soon after, the church began to have a stockpile of colorful, soft and cozy items. And, as the collection grew, so did the group members' desire to help others.
"We were just a fellowship group, but then we started thinking about what we could do with all the things we were making," Godawski said.
After some discussion, it was decided that baby blankets and mittens would go to places like the Willow Women's Center and St. Vincent de Paul.
Christmas gifts also would be made for homebound seniors and all the residents at Fair Oaks Rehabilitation and Health Care Center, brightening their holidays.
Last week the Mary Undoer of Knots Ministry group members met to pack up boxes of approximately 100 gifts that will soon be delivered.
"It's really sweet to see the residents' reactions," Godawski said. "They send us thank you cards and all of them sign it...it makes you feel good."
The year is about to come to a close, but planning already has begun for the group's efforts in 2019. Members are always on the hunt for new projects.
Deb Potter, designated as one of the group's talented "baptismal bib ladies," loves crocheting as often as she can with the other women.
"Without crochet I really don't know how I would have connected with all these people," she said. "Crochet is something that I enjoy doing to relax."
The Mary Undoer of Knots Ministry meets from 3-5 p.m. on the first and third Thursday of each month at the church parish office.
Community members of all faiths are always more than welcome to join, as long as they bring a good attitude and want to have some fun.
"You don't have to know what you're doing," said Colleen Calhoun. "If you're willing to learn, we're willing to teach you."
For those unable to attend meetings, Mary Undoer of Knots Ministry members can crochet at home on behalf of the group.
Community members can always help the ministry's endeavors by donating crochet supplies like yarn or patterns.
"We all started out as strangers, but now we became really good friends...sometimes we even get a little work done when we have a meeting," Pulkrabek joked.
For more information on St. Peters, 620 Blackhawk Blvd., and the Mary Undoer of Knots ministry, visit www.st-peter-church.com or call 815-525-3400.
Ministry members also will be selling items at a craft and bake sale during a Knights of Columbus pancake breakfast from 8:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. on Dec. 16 at the church.