WINNEBAGO - The annual Odd Fellows' Oyster Stew and Chili Supper in Winnebago had a creative twist this year.
Eva Adams, president of the Rebekah Lodge for the state of Minnesota, wanted her local Starlight No. 11 chapter to do something to help others.
"This year my project is quilts or blankets to give to people undergoing cancer treatment," she said Saturday afternoon. "In conjunction with that, we decided to have a craft day."
Leigh Larsen, right, shows her son, Rhys, how to tie a fleece blanket while daughter Rylyn ties like a pro. The crafting session was hosted by the Starlight Rebekah Lodge during the supper Saturday at the Winnebago Municipal Building. The blankets will be donated to cancer patients.
The idea of a craft-making session really sparked for her.
"We're more of a community service organization," Adams said. "Instead of giving money all the time, I wanted to do a project we could work together on and donate to individuals."
Volunteers cut pieces of fleece large enough to cover an adult from shoulders to toes. Then they laid a patterned fleece on top of a solid colored one, cut fringes and tied two strands of fringe together to hold the fleece sides to each other.
"My emblem is the heart," Adams said, so each patterned fleece had hearts on it. The one exception was a piece that had pink ribbons for breast cancer survivors.
Elaine Kiehm was sewing quilt blocks together Saturday, volunteering her time, even though she's not a Rebekah.
"It means more to the community, [when it's] from people you know," Adams said.
Adams asked each Rebekah Lodge in the state to make blankets and donate them to people they know. She asked that a label be put on the back and has given out labels to those who want to donate blankets.
"I've given out 25 labels so far," she said.
The Rebekahs and Odd Fellows also worked together to assemble personal care kits. Pockets were sewn into face towels and filled with trial-size bath products. They will be given to Human Services to distribute to kids in foster care.
Donna Perryman said the Rebekahs were looking for volunteers to sew more towels.
While all this was happening, the smell of oyster stew and chili emanated from the kitchen.
David "Ace" Adams, the Odd Fellows' Grand Representative for the Jurisdiction of Minnesota, shared the recipe for his oyster stew: three gallons of oysters, 10 gallons of milk, a pound and a half of butter.
"Fat-free butter," he joked.
His mom, Joan Adams, said she became a member of the Starlight Rebekah Lodge 50 years ago in May, and the oyster supper started shortly after that.
"Three hundred is the most we've had," she said of past years.
In more recent years, attendance has been between 75 to 100.
The money raised by the event sponsors a local student's trip to the United Nations Pilgrimage for Youth Program in New York City. Tours are conducted in June and July.
Making the trip this year will be Katie Hohensee of Fairmont, who was chosen after tying for first in a speech contest Jan. 4 in Excelsior.
The oyster supper also benefits Camp Fa-Ho-Cha, which stands for Faith, Hope and Charity.
"The camp has been going since 1952," said Harold Lanz.
The facility is a 24-acre island on German Lake near Mankato. The Winnebago Odd Fellows send a couple of students annually.
The charity work is a part of being an Odd Fellow or Rebekah, said David Adams.
"The three links (in the logos of both lodges) stand for friendship, love and truth," he said. "Each chain represents that you are united together to do benevolence and charity."