Linda Tynes’ heart is as soft as the comfy throws that she loves to crochet.
So when she learned how her handiwork could help ease the pain of people in distress, she couldn’t wait to get started.
Today, the Brandon resident is a proud member of Sisters Sharing Love, a group that ministers to others through the gift of handmade prayer shawls and lap blankets.
“These are items we describe as a symbol of God’s love,” Tynes said. “We attach a card that lets them know that when they wrap themselves in the item, they are wrapped in prayer because we pray for that person while we crochet.”
Tynes’ generosity doesn’t surprise Susan Greco, vice president of patient services and Tynes’ supervisor at Methodist Rehabilitation Center in Jackson.
Greco says her administrative assistant is well known for her talent and her giving nature.
“She creates family heirlooms to cherish,” Greco said. “Her specialties include prayer blankets for persons with terminal illnesses, beautiful, soft baby blankets for our staff, precious baby hats, and warm winter scarfs all done in the color and style requested by the recipient.”
Recently, Tynes also began making crocheted bags that MRC patients hang on the backs of their wheelchairs to carry personal items.
“A volunteer who had been furnishing hand-sewn bags to the patients for years died recently, and demand for the bags was overwhelming the seamstresses who took her place,” Tynes said. “So I came up with a crochet pattern and recruited about 10 other women to help out.”
One of the first recipients of the new bags was Peggy Tynes of Raymond, a relative of Tynes who was at MRC recovering from a stroke.
Tynes says she loves having a role, however small, in helping patients feel better as they strive to overcome disabling injuries or illness.
“I consider it an honor to be part of this team,” she said. “The staff is so impressive. They show people there is life beyond a catastrophic event.’
Tynes also enjoys helping people learn how to crochet. She says it’s a way to pay it forward, since she’s beholden to all the generous folks who taught her the craft.
Her first instructor was her mother-in-law. “She actually crocheted our son’s receiving blanket,” Tynes said. “It was beautiful, and I wanted to learn to do that. When I was on maternity leave, she taught me how to do a basic granny stitch.”
Tynes said her skills fell by the wayside during the years when her two children were young.
“Life got the better of me, and I put it down and forgot how to crochet.”
In 2010, a friend told Tynes about Sisters Sharing Love and she was intrigued. “Not only did it give me an opportunity to pick up crocheting again, but it also gave me the opportunity to do something for others in need,” she said.
Requests for the group’s handiwork usually come from friends or family members of the recipient. Typically, it’s a gift to get them through a difficult time, such as a serious illness, loss or some other stressful situation.
Sisters Sharing Love meets Wednesday nights at 6 at Cups in Brandon, and Tynes has recruited others to the cause.
“She wanted me to go with her,” said friend Sharon Boteler of Brandon, who’s now a regular, too. “You get so much out of it.”
Tynes said about 20 women participate in the group and it’s an eclectic gathering of different ages, faiths and backgrounds. “We range in age from 18 to 71. Some are retired. Some work full-time. And we’re always looking for new members.”
Boteler said Tynes is known for her speed and her willingness to embrace new endeavors. “She is really fast, and she has really branched out and learned to do all sorts of stuff. She dares to do things I would never do and puts colors together I never would—and it works.”
“When I see something and feel challenged, I have to figure how to make it,” admits Tynes. She recently “Googled and You-Tubed” how to crochet her daughter Mia a trendy halter top. And she’s still on a high from hearing Mia say: “I love this.”
But better still, she says, is seeing someone in pain derive comfort from her handiwork while in a hospital bed or undergoing chemotherapy.
“Sometimes they will send us pictures and you can see it in their faces,” Tynes said. “When they are smiling and holding the blanket … it’s a good feeling to know something I can do can put a smile on somebody’s face.”
For information on Sisters Sharing Love or crocheting bags for MRC patients, call Linda Tynes at 601-573-8583 or go to www.facebook.com/SistersSharingLove.