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Woman’s crocheting hobby is her legacy and comforts, ministers to the sick

Woman’s crocheting hobby comforts, ministers to the sick

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) —  Strangers wrapping those in the hospital in warmth and love.

It started with crocheting shawls for those in critical and end-of-life care at IU Health West Hospital. Nancy Murray decided to take her hobby and create a Prayer Shawl Ministry there in 2009.

Then about six months ago, Murray unexpectedly passed away leaving the program’s future on the hook for volunteers.

“She hoped that when patients would receive the shawls that they would feel comforted or wrapped in warmth,” Genina Miller, Murray’s daughter, said.

But when Murray became ill about six months ago, the Prayer Shawl program came full circle.

“We had just received the bad news that she wasn’t going to make it and when I saw him step off the elevator with that purple bag,” Miller said.

The IU Health West Hospital chaplain Michael Gilbert delivered a prayer shawl to Murray.

“It meant a lot to her, she was very passionate about it… If anybody deserved a shawl it was her,” Miller said.

Before her death, Murray was the main contributor to the prayer shawl program, but hospital staff felt determined to keep it going.

“Well, it’s a service that comes directly from the heart and it’s very needed and very appreciated,” Gilbert said.

Just in the last week, Gilbert said he’s delivered five shawls. That’s why the need for volunteers within hospital staff, churches, and even just private individuals with knitting, crocheting, and sewing skills is so great.

“Any handmade project is a gift of love and is a connection from one human being to another human being and that’s what comes through to the patients and the families, is that somebody has spent their time and energy and care enough to make something for somebody they don’t even know,” Debbie Mansell, IU Health West Hospital Chaplain, said.

And for Miller, it’s her mother’s legacy living on long after her death.

“Every time I see a purple bag now I also think of mom,” Miller said.

If you are interested in creating and donating shawls for this effort, contact Genina Miller. Her email address is

Also, for more information on the program, click here.