Charity & Good Works Quilting
Quilters, sewers and fiber artists often can be found making and donating their sewing and quilting for charity and good causes, community aid and emergency. Whether it's for babies with AIDS, troubled teens, women's shelters or for myriad other volunteer reasons - where there is a need for warmth and good cheer you'll find a quilter, needleworker, knitter or crocheter putting her (or his) skill to the cause.
I've been seeing more and more Web pages mentioning projects for charity and holiday donating I thought an article pulling many of the sites and information into one place would help quilters to find a place to offer their time and skill for a cause which appeals to them.
Some projects begin to respond to a tragedy - the Oklahoma Bombing resulted in an outpouring of projects. One group on the Net organized a quilt from contributed blocks. A group of art quilters put together a collection which has traveled to several shows. I saw it in Houston in 1996 and found the pieces, most dedicated to the children who lost their lives, a moving testimony.
Tiny Miracles makes preemie baby mini-quilts. Redlands Hospital (between Palm Springs and Los Angeles) has even set up free quilting classes for volunteers who want to make quilts. John Peter Smith Baby Quilts project by Trinity Valley Quilters (Ft. Worth, TX) makes quilts, and includes knit and crochet blankets as well.
Quilts from Caring Hands [added April 1999] in Oregon makes quilts for children-at-risk: the homeless, those in foster care, drug addicted, AIDS infected, visually impaired, abused, as well as infants of teen mothers. They do a great thing with tactile quilts and toys for visually impaired.
The ABC Quilt Project is a large one with contributors from many areas - the project began in 1988 when Ellen Ahlgren heard about the tragedy of AIDS Babies. Examples of the quilts, which can be many different designs, can be seen on this Web page. A FAQ on ABC Quilts will explain more details. Quilt Digest has published a book with projects especially designed for ABC Quilts to be made by children for children.
Project Linus has delivered more than 15,000 quilts to children with cancer and has branches in the USA and Canada.
A project I find heartwarming is the My Brother's Keeper (sometimes called "Ugly Quilt"). This concept is a very useful way to help the homeless with a quilt/sleeping bag that is alike a very large padded pillow case. Eleanor Dugan of my Quilt Guild (East Bay Heritage Quilters) is very active with this project. The history of how Flo Wheatley began was written up in Family Circle magazine. A pattern for making these sleeping bags is on the Web and some pictures of Ugly Quilts are here. The project has an excellent short video with labor donated by a professional camera crew showing highschool kids how to organize and make Ugly Quilts. If you have a youth group interested in making Uglies - contact Flo Wheatley, Strawberry Hill Farm, RR1, Box 1049, Hop Bottom, PA 18824-9710. These are fun and fast to do with a group and use all kinds of scrap clothes, blankets, curtains, and such.
Kaye Wood has designed a "6-hour" fast quilt she calls The Love Quilt and shares the pattern to encourage groups to make these for donating to children's hospitals and other such organizations.
A project aimed at teens and young people is the "30 Hour Famine" to teach and acknowledge world hunger. During the 30 hours of self-imposed famine participants do "good works" and one suggestion is to make quilts.
Of course, one of the most famous projects for quilting for a cause is the massive "Names Project" AIDS Memorial Quilt begun in San Francisco in 1987. These are being done in many countries and there are many interesting Web sites of images and text. Also see www.aidsquilt.org.
But, if you aren't near a group or aren't able to work with an existing project - don't feel you can't act! A single individual can accomplish a lot - one woman, Marilyn Jensen, collects dolls during the year and fixes them up and dresses them to give as Christmas gifts to poor children. Dawn writes about Marilyn and other charity projects on her Charity Page.
If you are making quilts for donating you will probably want to TIE them rather than quilting them. The QuiltNet FAQ on Quilt Tying will help understand how to do this. Using a size 5 pearl cotton is a good choice for the ties.
For more reading on Quilting and contacting related charity projects:
RSVP Group (Retired and Senior Volunteer Program) in VT & NH
Comforter Network was formed to increase awareness about the reality of sexual abuse, and to make comforters for shelters which help survivors of sexual abuse.
Victoria's Quilts - quilts for cancer patients
Angel Quilts, in Maine, makes quilts for homeless shelters, nursing homes (lap quilts) and baby quilts for hospitals in addition to burn out victims when we have enough We accept scraps, unfinished quilts, yardage, old clothing (for making into squares) whatever people want to donate. Please add us to your list! Contact Shirley Swanson.
Sunshine Quilt Project is an International Internet group making quilts for war torn countries...for more info. This group started on the Net, it's a 'guild' activity for those who aren't in local guilds.
I hope this article will get everyone thinking about a project to do for others with your quilting and sewing skills. Or, start one with your Guild members yourselves!