COMMUNITY GEMS: Volunteers warm others with winter gear, quilts

Ministries at Kettering church help veterans, those in need

Hundreds of men, women and children in the greater Dayton area who feel the sting of winter are comforted each year thanks to the Warm Wishes ministry at one Kettering church.

At its helm is Nedral Dalton, who with Debbie McCoy and a group of about 20 others, construct fleece scarves, hats and mittens to give out at schools, homeless shelters and other charities at the end of the year.

Dalton said about 2,000 sets are distributed each year, with more than 54,000 people having been touched since the project started at David’s United Church of Christ in 2002.

“It feels good to the soul when we deliver these,” said Dalton, 75, of Centerville, who became the ministry’s coordinator in 2010.

Although most of the gear is given out in November, the ministry works year-round, meeting at the church most Monday mornings. Dalton said she loves the community and wants to do what she can to help.

The retired real estate agent moved to Dayton when she was 11, but she is originally from the Appalachian region of Virginia. She remembers when the coal mines were shut down and the government provided dried milk, rice, beans and other basic means of subsistence.

“Because I know someone else helped me, I want to help someone else,” she said.

McCoy assists with Warm Wishes and also heads up a separate group of about a dozen volunteers who meet weekly to make quilts that are distributed at the hospice section of the Dayton VA Medical Center. The ministry has donated 473 quilts from 2015 through the end of 2022, McCoy said.

The red, white and blue quilts are displayed in the church’s sanctuary and blessed by the pastor before they are delivered shortly after Memorial Day and Veterans Day each year, she said.

The 69-year-old Kettering woman said that she wants the veterans to feel honored for their service, and those who create the quilts are blessed by the friendship and fellowship that has grown among them. She can tell the gifts are meaningful thanks to the feedback the group has received from the recipients’ families.

“They become treasured,” she said. “It brings tears to our eyes when we read some of their notes.”

Ernest C. Dalton has heard from families of those who have been presented with the quilts about how appreciative they are to receive them in their final days too. He also has seen firsthand the hours that Nedral, his wife, puts into the winter gear. He nominated both women as Dayton Daily News Community Gems.

The cold-weather items take a lot of fabric, and Nedral constantly watches for fleece sales. He helps to transport the purchases.

“We load up four or five carts just as full as we can stack them,” he said.

Nedral and McCoy both are humble, and both often give credit to the others who volunteer, he said. But they are the ones who make the projects happen.

“These two women go beyond the call of duty,” he said.

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