(It's OK, some of my best friends are deaconesses.)
At one of our stops in the seminary process, we had a baby. A lady from the church to which we had been cobbled at that time gave me a call when he was about a week old and asked if I were up for a visit. She came to the house, sat and talked to me for an hour, and left me with a plate of cookies and a cute burp cloth for the baby.
I haven't seen her since, and the baby peed on the plate of cookies while I gave him a bath on the counter (first boy--I had some things to learn). But that burpie I've still got, and it's one of my favorites. It was just a trifold cloth diaper onto which someone had sewn blue gingham edging. I always put it in my church bag because it looks distinctly unlike a grubby old kitchen towel I grabbed at the last minute, which is what the rest of my burpies look like.
All of which is a long way of saying that I thought it was really nice of that church to have done that for me (particularly since, as seminary hobos, we were just passing through). This relates to one of my troubles: a constant feeling that I'm not a very good church person because it's so hard for me to get out. No infirm or bereaved person wants a visit from a church lady who's dragging five kids with her. Add to that the fact that infirm and bereaved persons DO want visits from their pastor, and it's pretty rare for me to do much calling. The parental divisions and conquerings must be given over to Dad making calls.
But since Dad does get out to see them, it's easy for me to make deliveries. So here are a few little projects I've collected for the invisible at-home mom who wants to express some basic goodwill on behalf of the parish.
New baby. I write a note to the mom telling her congratulations and that she's in my prayers, and send along a cute burpie. There's really no wrong way to make one out of flannel or terry cloth, and the small cuts keep it economical. I keep hoping that the more of these I make the better chance I have of actually learning how to sew. It's nice having a stockpile of them for short-notice baby presents anyway.
New grandma. For the frequent- or primary-care grandma (a common creature in this workaday world), Pack-n-Play sheets are usually a good bet and take no more than a yard of fabric, a little bit of elastic, and not that much time to make from cottons, knits, or flannel (basic crib sheet strategy here). The only trick to this is that PnPs come in different sizes, but my genius friend Gauntlets shared with me a formula to make a sheet to fit any size sleeping baby receptacle:
Chemo patient. Commercial head wraps are pricey, but this here pattern is free, easy, and fast. You can get away with a little shorter piece of fabric if you divide the oblong piece into thirds and sew them together to make the complete long piece. You can also use the scrappies to make a matching fabric headband for the patient's sister, daughter, or friend (another idea stolen from commercial chemo head wraps).
For bereavement or other family emergencies, I send food if Dad and/or church ladies report to me that it's in order. Food is risky what with all the allergies and intolerances and diets and hangups, but I guess it's still the best bet for people with immediate trouble.
I'd be interested to hear about other simple, low cost projects along these lines. I can't knit or crochet, but better wives can so include those too. (I can keep up with this stuff fairly easily since Dad's parishes are smaller--at a larger church, a team of people would be in order.)