I have a most wonderful club post to share with you! I just had to call this club leader personally because I had so many questions to discover just how she managed to do this. What is this? Every dad who had a daughter in the Keepers Club made a beautiful wooden hope chest for her! Wow! Can you imagine this? Every man learned a valuable skill in building a fine wooden piece of furniture, and every daughter received a hope chest that her own father made for her, which will always be a valuable keepsake to her.
Let me tell you about it. Sandra Steele, a pastor’s wife, has a Keepers club. Moms are required to attend. In fact, she teaches the moms right along with the girls. She teaches so many wonderful skills to her girls and moms that she has a waiting list of mothers and daughters who want to be in the club.
Her girls spent the year making things for their hope chest, one of which was a block of the month quilt. I will tell you more about that one later. Moms gave their daughters a plastic tub to put their things in. The hope chests were to be a surprise for them.
Sandra approached one of the dads about this hope chest project in May of 2011. He was an elder of the church and had just finished a ramp so he had some carpentry experience. As it turned out, he didn’t have all of the skills needed for this project—he figured this out after they had purchased the pattern online. There was another dad who had a connection to the local Mennonites who agreed to let the men use their shop. That dad knew how to use their machines and tools, so he supervised the project. Both of these men assisted the less knowledgeable men in learning how to use the equipment as well as safety measures.
The original dad contacted all of the dads and got them on board. Sandra worked on the other end with the moms (things like payments and timing). The original estimate was $200 per chest, but it ended up being $400 per chest (much cheaper than the cost of a retail oak and cedar chest). This was a hefty fee for Sandra’s family with two girls and another family with three girls, but they were able to make payments to the Mennonite shop during the project. The dad involved “managed” the entire project including the dads, the wood, and working with the Mennonites on the fees.
The project began in September of 2011 and was completed in May of 2012 (the day before their ceremony). The chests were generously stored at the Mennonite shop throughout the process. All of the dads participated but on varying levels. At first, it was more of an assembly line, but when it came to actual assembly, they each chose their pieces and worked on their own. At first, they met one Saturday a month, but soon realized they needed to meet more, so they started meeting whenever possible. Sandra’s husband and the other dad with several daughters went in many extra evenings in order to finish on time. The men involved were very giving of their time and worked hard to make sure every girl received a hope chest. In addition, one of the moms often took a soup or some other food item for all of the men during the all-day sessions. Sandra said that to do this project it really requires a lot of prayer, a professional shop, supportive moms, a “project manager” dad, and at least one dad with woodworking knowledge. The Lord really brought this all together perfectly for them.
These chests were supposed to be given when the girls graduate from Keepers (one by one), but it didn’t work that way because storage became an issue (the hope chests were much larger than anticipated). So the dads and Sandra decided to give them all at once during the award ceremony.
The girls were thrilled, and their own moms gave out the hope chest badges during the ceremony. Sandra also surprised the dads with woodworking badges during the ceremony.
Sandra is doing a super job of involving the families of her Keeper girls, and with this hope chest skill, moms and dads and girls are all learning too!