The program is a grass-roots effort, and shawls are not ever to be sold, only given away.
Patricia Elario, who has personally created 133 shawls, and Meekins said they often see “divine intervention” at work with the shawls.
“For some reason when you make one, it goes to the right person,” Elario said.
“I love the miracle part of it,” Meekins said. “I will pick out the color and put it in a gift bag. Then, the feedback I get is, ‘I gave it to that lady, and that was the color of her living room or that was her favorite color.’ Well, that is the one God wanted them to have.”
Elario relates a story about a recent shawl that she made for the wife of her cousin, who was terminally ill. She mailed it out-of-state with intended delivery on Jan. 21. Because of ice and snow, the package was delayed.
“The shawl arrived instead on Feb. 5,” Elario said. “As they were taking my cousin out, the package arrived. She took it out and immediately put it on. She wore it when she picked up his ashes.”
Elario said that the benefits of the shawls also extend beyond the recipients.
“It feels good inside to know you are doing something to comfort someone else even though you know you can’t be there or take away their grief,” she said.
Elario became a crafter for the ministry after she received a shawl following the death of her sister.
“I lost my sister in 2008,” she said. “The shawl gave me a lot of comfort. When you get in those moods late at night, I wrap it around myself.”
Meekins remembers being touched by the reappearance of a shawl she had made for a close family friend. Years later, when that woman was struggling with the death of a young friend, she asked Meekins to accompany her to the wake to help her face the challenge. As Meekins was following behind, she noticed that her family member was cloaked in the prayer shawl that Meekins had given her.