Daily Union Staff Writer

The Bag Ladies of Findlay are gearing up for the winter season once again and asking for donations of old blankets and other fabric items to be used in making sleeping bags for the less fortunate.

Over the past seven years, the volunteer organization has been cranking out “Ugly Bags,” made of whatever materials come in the door. Currently, the Bag Ladies have made and distributed 724 bags and are eager to make some more.

“They’re ugly but they work,” observed Bag Lady Barb Bachman.

About a dozen Bag Ladies gather in the basement of Findlay First United Methodist Church on Tuesday mornings during their “Bagging Bees.” At the Bagging Bees, the ladies put in as many hours as they can afford and work with what materials that are available at the time. There is no boss, so the number of hours is up to each person.

While the Bag Ladies will keep you in stitches, they depend on the community to keep them supplied with materials

Bag Lady Joan Lucas commented, “We can always use blankets because we use those on an ongoing basis. But inside the blankets, we need warm gloves and scarves for the winter season. Toiletries are always appreciated like combs, toothbrushes, toothpaste and little bars of soap.”

Although volunteers come and go, at least three have been with the program since its inception in 2000: Evelyn Cruit, Ilene Warfel and Betty Perry.

Perry added, “We also put towels and washcloths in and we need razors, sweatshirts, socks, and anything that somebody might need who is out on the street.”

Large pieces of thick fabric for the Ugly Bags is always appreciated. “We like doubleknit, wool and flannel and if you call us, we will arrange to drive out to pick them up. We also use old drapes and bedspreads and other heavy fabrics. Anything that might keep a person warm,” Perry added.

Sometimes the ladies will go on blanket hunting missions to garage sales and thrift shops like the Plaza Boutique, operated by the Shelby County Senior Citizen’s Center. The Bag Ladies also obtain blankets from motels and hotels going out of business.

Although most of the Bag Ladies are United Methodist Women, they are quick to add that anyone can join.

“All of us are very proud of this work,” said Carol Siempelkamp. We think of the poor people on the streets, huddled up in the cold when we sew the bags.”

The Ugly Bags consist of three blankets, seven feet by seven feet in length and are stitched together with a sheet between the layers.

Most of the bags are distributed through Decatur to the Northeastern Community Center, The Oasis Day Center and Good Samaritan Inn.

Siempelkamp added, “When I go to bed at night and pull my nice, warm covers up around me I think, everybody in the world should be able to do this.”

For more information on becoming a Findlay Bag Lady or to make a donation call 756-3401.

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