Friends, family and fellow church members gather to say thanks for local woman’s pillow ministry
INDIAN TRAIL – When Evelyn Calhoun, 82, of Indian Trail started sewing at the age of 10, she had no idea her new hobby would become her profession and, eventually, her ministry. But Calhoun got a taste of just how many lives she’s touched on Sunday morning when she walked into the sanctuary of Faith United Methodist.
Dozens of people showed up at the Indian Trail church for a surprise celebration honoring Calhoun’s “pillow ministry.” Friends, family and fellow church members gathered in the sanctuary, holding their homemade pillows and quilts Calhoun had given them throughout the years as Calhoun walked into the sanctuary, receiving thunderous applause.
“I just wanted to cry,” she said.
About 12 years ago, Calhoun decided to start a pillow ministry for her fellow church members.
“I just couldn’t get over all the little children here and their young mothers and fathers,” she said.
Calhoun began sewing pillows for families with new babies, children who joined the church and, sometimes, just because she felt like giving someone a pillow. Throughout the years, she has sewed a total of 454 pillows as part of her ministry.
Last year, fellow church member Dottie Hawes got the idea to throw a special surprise party celebrating Calhoun and her ministry.
“God just put something on my heart that said we need to do something for Evelyn,” Hawes said. “I put it off, and then she had gotten up in front of the church (to talk about her ministry) a few weeks ago, and it was like God slapped me in the face at that point and said, ‘This is it. You need to do it now.’”
Hawes called Faith United Methodist pastor Lonnie Pittman and began communicating with church members through Facebook. People immediately responded, saying they’d love to show up for the celebration.
Allison Keyes grew up attending Faith United Methodist and received a pillow from Calhoun as a “just because” gift when she was in high school. Keyes was excited to come back to the church and celebrate a special friend.
“She’s probably one of the sweetest people I’ve ever met,” Keyes said.
Church member Rob McCain also was excited to show up with his two sons, age 9 and 11, who received a pillow and a quilt as a gift from Calhoun.
“She’s the symbol of kindness and selflessness,” McCain said. “We use her as a role model for those two qualities for our kids.”
Sewing wasn’t always just a hobby for Calhoun. When she was in high school, Calhoun started sewing as an after-school job, doing everything from sewing bridesmaids dresses to making alterations on various garments.
As an Air Force wife, Calhoun traveled around the world with her husband to places like Japan, England and the Philippines. For military wives, finding a job could be very difficult because people couldn’t expect them to stay for long periods of time. But because she sewed, Calhoun was always able to find some kind of work.
“Some of the women couldn’t get a job being a secretary,” she said. “When (employers) would find out that their husbands were in the service, they’d say, ‘Well, you’ll just start and then leave.’ But I could always get a job sewing.”
In addition to the pillows and quilts, Calhoun has expanded her sewing ministry to include other projects as well, such as alterations and sewing on letters and patches to clothes.
“My youngest son was in Scouts and she sewed all of his patches and would not accept any money for that because she thought it was part of her duty,” McCain said.
Calhoun never asks for any money for these projects.
“She just asks that you give donations to the church,” Hawes said. “I’ve never met a woman that has a bigger heart than her, and the proof is the pillows.”