In a hospice environment, comforting gifts can make all the difference to patients who are coping with the end stages of life.
Quilts, in particular, are what Polk County’s Sew “N” Sew Quilt Guild knew would hit the right note when they donated 25 lap quilts to Citizens Memorial Hospital’s Hospice program last month.
Seven of the guild’s 18 members — Kay Patrick, Vera Florea, Lynnette McCulloh, Diane Cain, Peggy Glor, Lynn Simpson and Linda Davis — sat down with the BH-FP to speak about their donation.
They said giving away quilts to a charity of choice was just another yearly project for them.
“We give away an average of around 30 quilts each year,” Simpson said.
But picking CMH’s hospice this year did mean something special to some members. When asked if they have had experience with loved ones in hospice, most raised their hands.
Cain said she knew “it would be appreciated.”
For the guild to get those 25 quilts sewn up, guild member McCulloh said she prepared quilting kits ahead of their meeting. Then, at the meeting, she and other guild members had a “jelly roll race,” working together to complete one or two jelly roll quilts each from the kits.
“We did the William Tell Overture while we were making them — but that got old,” McCulloh said, laughing. “But it was fun.”
After an hour and a half of racing to sew the jelly roll quilts, everybody at the meeting “pretty much had a quilt top done,” said Simpson.
“It’s a fun, quick way to get a quilt top,” she said. “Different members took the tops and had them quilted, put binding on them.”
The quilts were accepted on CMH Hospice’s behalf by Loretta Hascall, CMH director of volunteers, at the guild’s Oct. 18 meeting.
The guild members laughingly said they filled up the back of an SUV with the quilts.
“It is amazing when you see them all stacked up,” Cain noted.
In turn, CMH expressed gratitude for the gift.
“We absolutely appreciate the donated quilts because it gives comfort to our patients — many have never owned a quilt — and they were made with love,” Valerie Noblitt, CMH director of home care services, told the BH-FP. “We really appreciate the support and love of the community for our hospice patients.”
Darning a purpose
Crafting and donating quilts with altruistic purposes is a regular task for the Sew “N” Sew Quilt Guild.
They said each year, the guild’s committee votes on a project to donate quilts.
In recent years, they have donated quilts to veterans, foster care children, Wheels for Meals and women needing feminine products overseas, they said.
The quilts for the veterans in particular amounted to around 30 quilts, they said.
Making the quilts while knowing they’ll end up in the hands of people who need them is “a great feeling,” Davis noted.
“Lots of times for me, when I know a quilt is going to someone with a special purpose or a special person, I pray as I work on the quilt for that person,” said Patrick.
Another member agreed.
“You make a connection,” said Simpson. “That makes it special.”
Something else that adds a sense of speciality to the quilts is the fact that many of their materials are donated.
With the donated materials, “We each create — as I call it. It gives us an outlet for creativity because we can put together the colors and the shapes and things,” Simpson said.
They have made and donated “port pillows” to cancer patients — small pillows designed to serve as a comfortable barrier between ports and seat belts — and fidget quilts for Alzheimer’s patients, which have add-ons, such as zippers and buttons, to help patients keep their hands busy.
They said it’s an avenue they find meaningful.
“Most of us in the guild are retired, so that gives us a purpose — something to feel like we’re doing something, giving back to ourselves by volunteering,” Davis said.
One aspect Simpson said she enjoyed after she joined the guild was not only the group’s charity, but how, as she learned more about quilting, “these people help you.”
“They help you move along and become a better quilter,” Simpson said. “Just like a family. We help each other."
And with their members at different levels of quilt sewing expertise, they always end up accomplishing any task they try.
“I’ve always been impressed by the fact that we’re a small guild, but we’ve done a lot — that the members are dedicated enough to whatever the project is, they may give two or three quilts instead of just one,” Patrick said.
Simpson said around four years ago, the group estimated they had donated around 500 quilts total.
“We’ve done much more that in the last four years,” Simpson said.
And why are quilts the fabric of this guild’s service?
“Because they’re warm and cozy,” McCulloh said, to the laughter of her fellow members. “And you think about home.”
Patrick added giving a quilt to someone is “like giving them a hug.”