Hands and Hearts Projects

By Teresa Shafer

Last September I was motivated by a video about the people of El Recreo, El Salvador. The video showed villagers alongside a road waving and smiling, but what impressed with me was the expression of gratefulness they expressed. I was convinced to help in some way to raise money for them by creating a handmade natural product. Something made from the hands comes from the hearts, thus created our Hands and Hearts projects. Our family put together Iowa-grown corn-husk wreaths that were sold last year at the Fall Harvest Dinner, with proceeds going towards the El Recreo corn project.

After last year’s Fall Dinner I started thinking and planning for this year’s event and decided to grow wheat and other grains for our creations. Fall rye was sown and emerged as a beautiful green blanket this spring. Some of the rye was harvested, but most was turned over to improve soil conditions, then wheat and pearl millet were sown. Wheat is not grown widely in Iowa due to our wet, humid summers, and the millet had its challenges as well. Millet is grown in Africa, which likes dry hot days, and birds love to feast on millet. With this in mind I was not expecting success, however much to my amazement the plot grew into a beautiful wheat and millet field, producing a good harvest. During the hottest days of July my family helped with the harvest, with our grandchildren learning the history of hard work of harvesting by hand. With the help of my daughter-in-law, Jessica Shafer, below, along with other friends and family contributors, we achieved our goal and produced wheat wreaths and sheaves.










I have always taken an interest in the symbolism history of flowers, plants, and grain. Wheat is made mention through many generations of songs and biblical readings. It is a prominent symbol of Bread of Life with love, faith and charity. The shimmer of golden wheat symbolizes the gold sacred vessels used for the Eucharist. We transformed the wheat into harvest wreaths, which symbolizes eternal love, faith, and charity and sheaves of wheat symbolizing The Body of Christ.
No better way to express our charity and love to our Families of El Recreo than to extend the sales of our Hands and Hearts Wheat Harvest mission to them.

Several of Teresa’s wreaths will be available this year’s Fall Dinner with the proceeds going to El Recreo. View on an online photo gallery of Teresa’s efforts


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