‘Glory To God’

Akeley Group Sews Quilts For Cancer Patients

Karen Martin holds a quilt and tote bag made by Cozy Quilts Ministries, a group that gives quilt packages to cancer patients. Photo by Beverly Kehe-Rowland

When Karen Martin learned to sew in her high school home economics class, she had no idea she would one day be part of a ministry to support cancer patients.

“God gave me this talent to sew. I want God to have the glory, not me. I like doing things for people and helping in the background.”

It began several years ago when Kelley Carson of Farmersville made a quilt for her friend Connie to take to her cancer treatments. It was made in a pinwheel pattern, the only pattern she had. Unfortunately, Kelley’s friend passed away, but Kelley continued to make quilts for other cancer patients.

Karen met Kelley about 12 years ago at a quilt retreat where an auction was held to benefit her Cozy Quilt Ministry.

“What she was doing intrigued me, so I contacted her,” says the Pennsylvania woman. “It took a while to get started. Eight dedicated girls meet the last Saturday of the month from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at my house. We have done (quilts) for 10 years.”

Two of Karen Martin's seven sewing machines set up in work stations. Photo by Beverly Kehe-Rowland

The hostess and group organizer provides lunch for the women who make about 40 quilts per year.

The ministry has spread to other areas of New York and Mrs. Martin’s lone Pennsylvania group. Nearly 7,000 quilts have been given away by Cozy Quilt Ministry since it began in 2004. The quilts have been sent throughout the United States and to a few foreign countries.

“Our little group has made 400 quilts. In the 10 years, only three quilts have been sent to kids,” says the seamstress. “That’s the hardest part.”

Each quilt package is free of charge to a cancer patient. They receive a quilt, a tote bag, a matching tissue holder, a book, a homemade card and a letter. A label personalized with the recipient’s name is sewn into each quilt.

When God and Cancer Meet by Lynn Eib is added to the adult package. Children are given It Will be OK by Lysa TerKeurst.

A quilt, an age appropriate book, a homemade card and a letter are bundled inside the tote bags that are given to cancer patients. Photo by Beverly Kehe-Rowland

Each quilt requires two yards each of two different fabrics and one and a half yards of fleece for backing. The tote bags are made from denim with a patch pocket that matches the quilt. The pinwheel pattern has become the signature pattern.

“They can take their quilt and anything else they need to treatments in the tote bags,” she says. “The fleece makes a nice warm backing.”

A large supply of fabric with themes that appeal to men was recently purchased. The quilts are split about 50/50 to male and female recipients. When making a quilt for a child, they try to match the fabric pattern to the child’s interest, such as sports or super heroes themes.

The amount of money the group spends on the total package is about $50. Mrs. Martin buys the books by the case for a cost of $400. About half of the quilts are mailed. Postage runs around $9 or $10 each, depending on the distance it is mailed.

The other ladies taking part in the Akeley group are Misty Johnson, Carol Cheney, Bev Andrews, Toot Larsen, Priscilla Powley, Julie McIntyre, Kathy Pescha and Cathy La Barte.

The Martins converted an attic into a cheerful, well-lit workroom. Photo by Beverly Kehe-Rowland

Some of the women learned of the ministry through church presentations, some saw newspaper articles, others were friends and two are family members.

“New friends have been made. We all have our jobs.”

Misty is the kit maker who puts all quilt parts in a ziplock bag. Cathy, Carol, Priscilla and Kathy make quilt tops. Julie makes tops and sews on binding. Karen’s 83-year old mother, Toot Larsen, does much of the ironing and takes the quilts to her home where they are tied.

“Bev and I kind of do all jobs, make quilts and tote bags and sew on the binding if we need to,” says the founder of the group.

Although they set aside a time to come together each month in the bright, cute sewing room the Martins have converted from an attic space, many take their projects home to continue working on them.

“Russell United Methodist Church has been very good helping me get the group started and have been very supportive of the fundraisers held at the church.”

A chicken and biscuit dinner is held each year which includes the sale of whole pies. They also make and sell tissue packet holders for a dollar.

“It’s not much but every dollar helps.”

The group accepts monetary donations, as well.

“When we need something, we seem to get it,” she says.

As is the tradition of this page, Mrs. Martin has contributed some of her recipes.

“I don’t really like peppers that well but I just love the Stuffed Pepper Soup. I use brown rice because it’s heartier.”

The No-Fail Orange Creamsicle Fudge and the Strawberry Swirl Fudge recipes were used to make fudge to sell at the United Methodist Women’s Valentine’s Day candy sale.

“Chicken Riunite is really good and you can drink the rest of the wine,” she says with a grin about the recipe she got when a friend took the dish to a gathering Mrs. Martin attended at Ocracoke Island.

The Hot Pretzels recipe was added to the church cookbook by a friend. Mrs. Martin uses one half teaspoon cayenne pepper rather than the full teaspoon called for in the recipe, but says it could be left out entirely.

Cancer patients may request a quilt by sending an email to dmmkmm@verizon.net or by calling (814) 757-8318. Monetary donations may be sent to Cozy Quilts of Russell, PA, 1695 Cider Mill Hill Road, Russell, PA 16345.

Chicken Riunite

4 boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces

4 beaten eggs

Italian bread crumbs

Butter or oil

1 c chicken broth

1/4 c Riunite white wine

Muenster cheese slices

Soak chicken in beaten eggs for 2 hours in the refrigerator. Roll in Italian bread crumbs and brown in frying pan in small amount of butter or oil. Place in 9-inch by 13-inch pan and add broth and wine. Bake uncovered for 45 minutes at 350 degrees. Cover with cheese slices and bake an additional 15 minutes.

Tater Tot Breakfast


1 lb breakfast sausage

1/2 red bell pepper, chopped

1/2 c onion, chopped

1-1/2 c sharp cheddar cheese, shredded and divided

4 eggs

1 1/2 c milk

1/2 tsp onion powder

1/8 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

32 oz. bag tater tots, thawed

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Coat pan with cooking spray. In a large skillet over medium heat, cook sausage, pepper and onion until sausage is browned. Drain. Place meat mixture in a baking dish and evenly sprinkle with 1 cup cheese.

In a large bowl, whisk eggs, milk, onion powder, salt and pepper. Pour over cheese and top with tater tots. Bake for 35 minutes. Top with remaining cheese and cook 5 more minutes or until cheese is melted.

Stuffed Pepper Soup

1 lb lean ground beef

1 large onion, diced

1 c uncooked or 2 c cooked rice (I use brown rice)

14.5 oz can flavored diced tomatoes (roasted garlic, sweet onion basil)

1 can tomato sauce

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp basil

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

1 32 oz chicken stock

2 c water

2 T powdered beef stock

3 bell peppers, green, red, orange, yellow, diced into 1/2-inch pieces

In a large soup pot coated with cooking spray, over medium high heat, brown the ground beef, with onions and rice. Browning the rice gives it a nice nutty flavor. Do not burn. Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, oregano, basil, salt, pepper, chicken stock, water and beef stock. Allow to come to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and allow to cook 20 minutes. Add peppers and allow to cook 20-30 minutes more (some types of rice may need longer to cook).

Hot Pretzels

1 c oil

1 pkg dry ranch dressing

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper

2- 16 oz bags of mini pretzels twists

Combine oil, dressing, garlic powder and pepper in a large bowl. Add pretzels and stir until coated. Bake uncovered at 200 degrees for 1-1/2 hours, stirring every 30 minutes.

No-Fail Orange

Creamsicle Fudge

2 c white chocolate chips

2 T butter

16 oz. can vanilla frosting

1-1/2 tsp orange extract

orange food coloring

Line an 8-inch by 8-inch pan with foil and set aside. Place chips and butter in a large pan and heat until melted and creamy. Peel off metal liner of frosting can and heat in microwave for 30 second. Pour into the melted white chip mixture. Stir until melted and creamy. Divide the mixture evenly into 2 bowls. Stir extract and food coloring into one bowl of mixture. Drop spoonfuls of each color randomly into the prepared pan. Swirl with a knife after adding a few dollops of mixture. Continue spooning more of each color into pan. Swirl the top a little bit, taking care not to over swirl or you will lose the white color. Let fudge cool completely before cutting.

Strawberry Swirl Fudge

3/4 c unsalted butter

2 c sugar

3/4 c heavy cream

pinch of salt

11 oz white chocolate chips

7 oz marshmallow cream

1 T strawberry gelatin powder

Line a 9-inch by 13-inch baking pan with parchment paper. In a large saucepan, melt butter with sugar, heavy cream and salt. Cook over medium-high heat until mixture starts to boil. Stirring constantly, boil for 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Using a mixer, beat in chips and marshmallow cream until fully blended and smooth. Pour half of the mixture into prepared pan. To the remaining mixture, beat in strawberry gelatin until smooth. Pour over first layer and use a knife to quickly swirl the 2 layers together. Refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight. Cut into bite-size pieces.