February 6, 2004 at 11:27 a.m.
The organization that she volunteers for called “Bundles of Love,” sent Nelson’s name in to qualify for the MetLife Foundation “Community Champion Award.” In partnership with the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging, MetLife honors contributions of older volunteers. There are three categories and one American in each category gets highest honors. The other two categories are for “Team Spirit” and “Mentor Award.”
Nelson, of Lindstrom, is retired after 18 years of employment in the manufacturing sector and bringing up a son and daughter.
Laura and husband Rollin bought a home by the Chisago Lakes Area High School about 10 years ago and moved up from New Brighton.
The Nelsons now have time to take trips, be with grandchildren, and pursue hobbies. One of those hobbies that Laura said she’d always enjoyed, but wasn’t able to do for many years, is sewing.
And, boy-- is she sewing now.
As a volunteer with Bundles of Love, Nelson will finish-off in one year’s time-- 863 pieced quilts and sew 358 infant night gowns, 526 newborn size sleepers and 409 premature infant-sized sleepers. Matching caps, of course, go with many sleepers.
She has a serger machine to bind the ravelly edges, and a straight line machine going pretty steady in the basement.
One room in the walkout basement is filled with infant clothes both completed and in various stages of assembly. Her t.v. chair is next to a knee-high table that holds tools used to attach snaps to the sleepers (they resemble pop rivets) and the guest bedroom was stacked with 89 quilts ready to be distributed.
Once each month Laura and Rollin load up the Buick (trunk and seats) and take the quilts and garments to the monthly Bundles of Love meeting at Salem Lutheran Church, in Moundsview.
From there, the “bundles” are sent to participating hospitals and social needs programs. Abbott-Northwestern, Fairview Ridges, Hennepin County Medical Center, Children’s Hospital and Region’s in St. Paul-- all benefit from deliveries of the finished “bundles.” The Baby Blanket program inside the St. Bridget’s Church in Lindstrom also benefits. An estimate from Teresa Wilts, who coordinates the northern group, is that 1,000 families were touched by the bundles just last year. Wilts said in a phone interview, that Laura is a super volunteer and very conscientious about producing the items, but she’s also very fun to be around.
When the Press visited the Nelson home, Rollin explained that Laura and he were allowed on a special tour recently, and viewed the workings of the Children’s Hospital NIC unit. He thought it was very interesting getting behind-the-scenes., pointing out, “They treated Laura like a queen.”
Bundles of Love was founded by a Lakeville woman, Mary Jo Prinsen, four years ago. Laura Nelson’s been active in the North Metro Group since its inception.
Bundles of Love is dedicated to helping infants, especially multiple births, and their families.
And, as dedicated as Nelson is to the organization, she explains that this doesn’t rule her life. She works on the garments and quilts in increments and walks away from her projects if she feels the least bit stressed.
The sleepers come to her already cut, so her work is like a portion of an assembly line.
Laura also praised the volunteers who get the materials to the sewing stages. The quilts come as tops already cut into squares, with colors coordinated by others who also spend many hours. Laura does the batting and finishing.