NORTH NEWTON, Kan. (KSNW) — Forget a birthday bash. A Kansas couple recently celebrated their 70th birthday by making and knotting dozens of comforters for those in need.

“This wasn’t a new idea, but what was new is we decided to challenge ourselves to see whether or not we could actually knot 70 all in one weekend,” said Esther Kreider Eash.

Esther and her husband, Bill Eash, are part of the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC), a worldwide ministry responding to basic human needs and working for peace and justice. Bill is also a professor and the director of choral activities at Bethel College. The pair’s Mennonite roots run deep.

Bill Eash and Esther Kreider Eash pose for the picture holding a finished comforter. Courtesy: Esther Kreider Eash.

“At the end of World War II, my father worked in reconstruction in France. After the war, building houses, and he worked there with the Mennonite Central Committee, of which my wife’s father was responsible for coordinating the rehabilitation in postwar Germany and France. From there, I came to understand the value of humanitarian efforts, especially with people who have been displaced and people who have lost things in war-ravished nations,” said Bill.

“I grew up in the Mennonite church. It was always a part of who I was and what my family was. I grew up with lots of stories of relief efforts,” Esther said.

One of those relief efforts is making comforters to send to people across the world.

“Comforters are the most requested item for the Mennonite Central Community,” Bill said. “We have so many people in this world that are displaced. As a result, they don’t have shelter. They’re not warm.”

“This is one of the greatest needs right now that MCC has, and so if we can give a bit of warmth, a bit of hope, a little bit, a glimmer of hope to some people who really need it, that feels good, and it feels as though it’s a valuable contribution,” said Esther.

The pair celebrated their 70th birthdays by threading and knotting 70 comforters. They invited their family and friends to join in.

“We were secretly not so sure that it would be possible. We knew we could do it in a week or two or so, but one weekend?” Esther explained.

One weekend was plenty of time. In fact, the couple and a couple of dozen people finished an hour early and found they made 71 comforters rather than 70. They hope their small act will inspire others to share their time and talents with others.

“Each of us doing something small becomes something larger which becomes something larger which becomes something larger, and those kinds of things change the world,” Bill said.

“Most people want to give of themselves in some way, and this is one opportunity, and sometimes that’s all people need is an invitation to join us around the comforter,” Esther said.

The comforters will be donated to people in places like Ukraine, Canada, Jordan, Ecuador and Lebanon.