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As a member of the Central Christian Church Sew Angel’s, Lina Bennett enjoys some hand stitching detail to assemble a blanket for homeless youth in the area. She loves using her sewing skills to benefit others.

BELOIT—Lina Bennett seems to light up the lives of all she meets. Whether delivering meals to the elderly, or sewing up a storm to clothe third world children, she radiates joy.

For her many efforts to brighten the lives of others, she is being honored as the Beloit Daily News Volunteer of the Month for January.

When asked about her volunteer activities, she is hard pressed to choose which is her favorite. But with her youthful energy she embraces each day with joy, and then spreads that sunshine wherever she goes.

Lina shares that her first volunteer experience was at age 11, when she was charged with child care while her mom served as an adult leader at girl day camp.

Now as a retired adult, Lina fills her days and weeks with volunteer efforts that benefit many in her community.

A major commitment in her life is Beloit Meals On Wheels. In 2004 her sister Ellie Hooker recruited Lina to help deliver a route. When her sister was no longer able to deliver, Lina continued the delivery process on her own.

“I like the people,” she shares. “They say such nice things—thank you, thank you, thank you. They are always very complimentary.”

Going full circle, Lina has now recruited a new delivery partner, Roy, who also joins Lina every Sunday when they package bread from Panera for delivery to clients.

“I always feel badly when I have to miss,” she says. “I know this program makes a huge difference in the peoples’ lives.”

Lina’s contributions are greatly appreciated by Meals on Wheels Executive Director Ellen Wiegand.

“Lina has been volunteering for Meals on Wheels for the past 16 years and brings a ray of sunshine every time she steps through our doors,” Wiegand said. “Lina works as an office volunteer helping with a variety of administrative tasks. She delivers meals multiple times a month, calls and checks on clients, and also comes in every Sunday, with her friend Roy, to package up Panera Bread donations.”

Weigand notes that Lina goes above and beyond the usual meal deliveries.

“Fundraising isn’t ‘natural’ to most people, but for Lina it comes easy, and she is always willing to approach people and sell raffle tickets,” she said. “Last year when the pandemic hit, Lina was instrumental helping in the office when we were experiencing staffing shortages. There is no better advocate for our cause than Lina and we are grateful for her service and friendship.”

Since 2013, Lina has volunteered for the Central Christian Church food pantry every first and third Wednesday. Arriving bright and early at 7:30 a.m., she packs bags for the homebound deliveries, and then assists at 9 a.m. for the walk in patrons.

Among her many talents, Lina is also an accomplished seamstress. Along with a dedicated group of church women she is a member of the “Sew Angels,” who stitch together t-shirts, shorts, skirts and dresses for children in third world countries.

Lina is especially proud of the variety of sewing projects completed by the group, such as quilts for the homeless youth and Project 16:49, baby blankets, burp rags and baby hats, as well as lap quilts for Beloit Regional Hospice.

Involvement in the Sew Angels has led to a wonderful friendship with church member, Jo Daugherty, who offers up some compliments of her own.

“Lina is very quiet and unassuming, always dedicated to getting the job done. She’s a very willing worker,” she said

Pastor Dave Meding echoes Daugherty’s sentiments.

“How would I describe Lina? ‘Joyful faithfulness covered with an abundance of Christ-like humility,’” he says. “Lina serves faithfully in our Wednesday morning CARE Ministry (food pantry) here at Central. She is always happy! Seriously. She comes in with joy and her joy is infectious. At the same time, she is no-nonsense about serving and serving well. She’s uninterested in receiving praise and serves because she loves people and she loves Jesus.”