Sometimes, the smallest acts of kindness and care can mean the most. As members of the American Legion Auxiliary, the world’s largest women’s patriotic service organization, we keep that in mind as we selflessly serve, aid, and appreciate veterans, servicemembers, and their families.
But when ALA member Cindy Freauff of Unit 453 in Dallas spearheaded and launched a “pocket prayer” project at her post home in 2009, she had no idea the impact the project would have on servicemembers such as John Kelty – now, a veteran of the U.S. Navy.
Kelty picked up his pocket prayer in the chapel aboard the aircraft carrier on which he was stationed during his first deployment in 2009. He kept the pocket prayer, using it as a page marker for his Bible, he said.
Fast-forward to 2018, when Kelty came to Post 453 – pocket prayer in hand – to say thank-you for it.
“I thought it was really neat that there were some strangers in Dallas, Texas, who were praying over me and my buddies and stuff,” Kelty said. “This was cool that people who don’t even know me took the time to express their care and concern. And they did that in a very selfless and time-involved manner.”
Kelty met ALA member Freauff, and their face-to-face meeting turned into a teary-eyed hug. Freauff examined Kelty’s pocket prayer and recognized the handwriting on it as hers.
“It was amazing! I couldn’t believe that, standing in front of me, was someone who received a pocket prayer, and who came to see us and thank us! It gave me chills!” Freauff said later.
After spending a lot of time talking to Freauff, other ALA members, and some Legionnaires at the post, Kelty decided to join The American Legion.
So … what’s a pocket prayer? What is this thing that bridged the hearts of a servicemember and Legion Family members through the years and across the miles?
A pocket prayer is a handmade craft – two pieces of fabric, one almost sheer and the other a patriotic print sewn together, with a handwritten prayer on it. Among Unit 453’s project participants, someone cut the fabric. Another sewed. And others joined Freauff in writing the prayer on the fabric.
At first, Unit 453 distributed pocket prayers at the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport as part of a “Welcome Home a Hero” program. Through the years, the pocket prayers were sent to chaplains aboard 11 U.S. Navy carriers, and the ships USS Dallas and USS Texas, for distribution to deployed servicemembers.
Below are simple how-to instructions for making pocket prayers, according to the method used in Unit 453 in Dallas. You’ll need the following items: patriotic-patterned fabric for the back, white muslin fabric for the front, iron and ironing board, scissors, a sewing machine, and a Pigma Micron 05 Black Pen.
Here’s how Unit 453 makes a pocket prayer:
1-) Iron both types of fabric.
2-) Cut both fabrics (muslin and patriotic-patterned) into four-and-a-half-inch squares.
3-) With patterned side of the patriotic fabric turned down, place white muslin piece on top.
3-) Using a sewing machine, sew a zigzag stitch all the way around twice. If you have a serger (a specialized sewing machine, sometimes called an overlock machine), you can do it once.
4-) With the Pigma Micron 05 black pen, write your prayer.
5-) Trim loose threads.