Saturday, December 26, 2009

Labor of Love (LoL)

"Pick up the pieces, let nothing be wasted." ~John 6:12

A desire to serve and a passion for the downtrodden lead 18-year-old Baker Watkins to develop an organization and create and deliver 46 blankets and 36 scarves to the homeless living in “Tent City” in downtown Nashville.

“God always laid in my heart to do something unique,” said Baker.

A few weeks before Christmas, Baker awoke in the middle of the night with the name Labor of Love rattling around in his head. Not understanding what it meant, he fasted and prayed for a week until the answer “birthed itself:” make blankets for the homeless.

A child of the computer age, Baker immediately put the idea on his Facebook page and asked for donations to purchase the materials he needed to make enough blankets to make a difference.

Donations flowed in and within a week, he created enough blankets and scarves to make a difference to a group of homeless men and women. He also collected clothes, coats and shoes, which he delivered along with the blankets. The boxes filled the family’s living room.

Five days before Christmas, the family joined Jeff & Dee Dee Etheridge, who minister to the homeless regularly, and delivered the goods to a more than eager group.

“I don’t know if God planned it that way – but luckily I was paying attention enough to listen to him,” Baker said, adding he couldn’t have accomplished anything without the help of family and friends. “God presented the opportunity; he gave me the name and showed me the need. All I’ve done is be his mouthpiece and hands.”

Making blankets wasn’t really such a strange directive for the teen. Baker has been working with fabric, needle and thread since he was in the third grade and he has a passion for the homeless and downtrodden.

His real interest in sewing began in his early teens when he became fascinated Civil War reenacting. He needed a period coat to participate. Since they were expensive to buy, he bought fabric and hand-sewed his own coat and has been working with textiles ever since.

A year or so later, his sister dropped her much-loved camera. Baker traded his camera for her sewing machine, which she was ever so happy to turn over, and like the tailor Motel Kamzoil in Fiddler on the Roof, sewing took on a whole new fervor.

“I’ve always had a passion for the homeless, the downtrodden – people who are different,” Baker said, adding he identifies with them. With his long hair, piercings and tattoos, “I’ve always been different in the world’s eyes. I don’t look the same. I don’t act the same. I’m looked on as crazy and I’ve come to accept that but so many people don’t.”

Baker learned more about the homeless when, just months into his senior year of high school, he dropped out, got his GED and left home for an internship at a teen recovery home for boys at a homeless shelter in Los Angeles. Although the job didn’t go as well as he hoped, he learned a lot and developed a special love for the dispossessed.

His organization, Labor of Love, will continue to make blankets and scarves and collect food and clothing for the homeless.
“We warm the cold, feed the hungry and love the lonely,” he said.

Information about donating clothing – including undergarments and shoes – candles in jars, backpacks, soap, shampoo, trash bags, food or monetary donations may be found at Baker’s Facebook page LOL/Labor of Loveor by emailing him directly at or calling 615-260-5426.

“People can help by going through drawers,” said Baker’s sister, Molly. “But please don’t bring your junk. They still deserve to feel they have value.”

~this article is from the Williamson daily herald.~