A Tribute in School Kits

When we lose loved ones, our impulse — after the initial shock and grief — is often to find a way to honor their memories. Donations to favorite charities in lieu of flowers, official or private memorials. Or perhaps, if your mother taught elementary school for 30 years, making LWR School Kits for children in need around the world.

Ellen Dahle Westberg of Hoffman, Minnesota, grew up on a farm and attended a one-room schoolhouse as a child. She began teaching in 1941 along with her friend Daphne Bakke, who would later become her child’s godmother. Ellen had two daughters, Cheryl and Karen, and retired from teaching third grade in 1981.

When Ellen passed away at age 90 in 2010, Cheryl and Karen tried to think of a fitting memorial for her. Cheryl, who also taught elementary school for several years, had always been tangentially involved in her church’s quilting and Kit-making ministry.

“Then the idea just materialized as we were thinking about memorials we could give [Ellen],” Cheryl says.

Along with her Women of the ELCA group at Trinity Lutheran Church, Cheryl and Karen assembled 75 School Kits and donated them to Lutheran World Relief in Ellen’s name.

“It has been fun and fulfilling to actually ‘do’ something for Mom,” Cheryl says.

In 2011, they decided to aim even higher: 100 School Kits following the new guidelines, with hand-sewn bags. Cheryl cut all 100 bags and sewed 75 of them. They called this year’s donation the “Dahle” and Daphne Donation, after Cheryl’s mother and godmother.

This fitting tribute to two dedicated teachers not only memorializes Ellen and honors Daphne. It also supplies students around the world with the tools they need to learn with dignity and confidence. Ellen, who believed firmly in the power of education, would be proud.

Learn more about how you can make School Kits that help children around the world receive the education they deserve at lwr.org/schoolkits