People facing life-threatening health conditions, recovering from heart surgery, or giving birth to their first child find comfort from holding the smooth crosses artfully crafted by the caring Christian volunteers at the Crossmakers of Seward.
Since 2010, the local shop on 331 Jackson Avenue in Seward, Nebraska has produced more than 130,000 crosses.
The organization was started by Clayton Kent. After visiting his brothers in Hastings who had been producing crosses for the hurting in their congregations, Kent was inspired. He brought the design back with him and started making crosses in his garage. After a couple of months, more and more people wanted a cross. He had more volunteers and orders than he knew what to do with.
To meet the demand, the building where they now reside was given to them. They bought the necessary equipment and rented out the remaining space to other local businesses. Holding up order forms from Pennsylvania, Michigan, Minnesota, and Oregon, Bob Kropf, the current chairman of the board, showed how the small production has since grown to reach people all over the nation.
“We hope to make a difference, and it gives these people something to do,” says Kropf.
The crosses go through an extensive production process before being sold in the gift shop or sold online. It would not be possible without the 30-40 volunteers that come in each week.
All of the wood comes from donated trees from around Seward. Farmers often call the Crossmakers of Seward when they have wood available. The Crossmakers receive the wood, dry it and then take it to a sawmill to be cut into manageable pieces. They sand the pieces down, cut off any unusable portions, and then trace the cross pattern onto the wood.
They cut out the crosses and send them on their way to be buffed and smoothed to perfection. They drill a hole on the bottom of the cross so a wooden peg can be inserted for the staining process. The crosses are stained multiple times, making this part of the process take roughly two days.
The crosses have come a long way. They now have customizable designs available for special occasions, like confirmations and graduations. They burn cancer ribbons of various colors, first responder symbols, and a dog paw symbol into crosses. The shop also creates wooden cross necklaces to hang around your neck or on the rearview mirror in your car.
The Crossmakers of Seward give crosses away to people to sell at trade fairs or shops, charging $5 for each cross. Those who sell them at trade fairs and shops can mark them up to $10 or more to make some profit. They can keep the profit or donate it back to Crossmakers.
The Crossmakers donate what money they make back to the county and people in need. Last year, they gave $250,000 back to the community. The non-profit gives scholarships to all three high schools, specific people in need, Seward churches, Kiwanis club, Rotary club, and the police force at Christmas. They have sponsored a Make-a-Wish child and made donations to individuals with cancer.
“I don’t think people know how much we give. We hope the organization will keep on serving,” says Kropf.
If you are interested in volunteering or buying crosses, Kropf encourages anyone to reach out. The shop is open from 8 AM – 11 AM Monday through Thursday.
Phone Number: (402) 643-0115