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Volunteers knit prayer shawls for patients at IU Health West

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Posted at 7:42 PM, Nov 27, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-27 19:42:48-05

INDIANAPOLIS — Volunteers are covering their patients in comfort at IU Health West and it's a team effort started by one dedicated knitter.

Genina Miller holds the last prayer shawl her mother made before passing away a few months ago.

"My mom was a very loving, caring person," Miller said. "Always wanting to help other people."

Miller's mother, Nancy Murray, stayed dedicated to the program she created a decade ago at the hospital until her very last days as she knitted until she was too sick to carry on.

"The prayer shawl program was something she was very passionate about," Miller said.

Originally, the shawls were only given to certain patients, but things have changed. The program has evolved over the years. Now shawls are not only given to patients at the end of their lives, but also to those having a bad day or dealing with a diagnosis.

It is estimated that Murray knitted at least 1,200 prayer shawls to bring comfort to patients. Through a serendipitous gesture, Miller found herself feeling the peace during her own tough time.

"To receive that gift was very meaningful to us," she said.

Michael Gilbert is the hospital's chaplain. He just happened to bring the Miller family a shawl not even realizing Murray started the program.

"Brought it full circle," Miller said. "It was her idea. She was very passionate about it."

Miller said the shawl reminded her that her mother's legacy will live on and that helps with the grieving process.

Anyone can knit or crochet a prayer shawl, also known as a prayer blanket. You can send an email to Gmiller1@iuhealth.org to get involved.

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