By Barb Bergquist
The day I saw the quilt that I made for Craftsy’s Crafting4aCause program featured in the opening picture of their blog, I was thrilled and humbled at the same time. I had sent it to them the year before and they in turn passed it onto Project Linus. I knew that this quilt went to kids, but to see it featured to support the current year’s program was more than I could have imagined!
This quilt was the first one I made for charity, one where I didn’t know who would receive it. I’ve made quilts before that I gave to people in need who were friends or family members, but this quilt project was different. It was going to a stranger, someone whom I would never meet. When you make a quilt for a family member or a friend, you know their challenge or affliction. You tailor the colors, designs and patterns that will cheer the person who will receive it. Everything about it is focused on bringing a smile (and maybe some happy tears) to the person’s face. When you make a quilt for charity though, you have both freedom and a challenge.
Because I didn’t know who was going to receive my quilt, I was free to choose the colors. I actually dug into my stash and pulled out a quilt kit that I had bought during the summer. The colors were bright and cheerful – those that kids would like. The colors were also gender neutral. The pattern was simple and it was a smaller lap quilt, just perfect for a child. That’s the freedom I had making this quilt.
Yet the challenge was also the freedom I had. What size should this quilt really be? What colors would be most attractive to whoever would receive it? Will it be given to a boy or girl? What pattern should I use? How should I quilt and finish it so it holds up over time? And most importantly, can I complete it in time for the program deadline?
These are the questions for you to consider when you are thinking about creating a quilt for charity. What charity should you choose? Do enjoy working on children’s quilts more? Have you the time or resources to make a small quilt or large one? What charity tugs on your heart strings? For me, cancer support calls me. The first quilt I gave to someone other than a family member went to a friend who was undergoing chemotherapy. He commented one day that he was always so cold in the treatment room. Now, our community makes quilts that we donate to people who are undergoing cancer treatment.
Many charitable organizations have programs to collect quilts for their cause, and other organizations have programs to collect quilts for a cause they support. Two that I know of right now are Crafting4aCause and Hopes and Dreams Quilt Challenge. Hopes and Dreams Quilt Challenge support those who suffer with ALS with a deadline of July 31. Crafting4aCause is working with Project Linus and just started their program. Quilts of Valor is an ongoing program that benefits active duty military personnel. Search the Internet to find a program that you want to support, or if you like, visit Quilting for Charity to find an organization you want to support.
Here are a few of the "cancer" quilts that have been given out in our community. Unfortunately, I did not get a picture of the first quilt that I made for the friend that I told you about who received my first “cancer” quilt, but I will never forget it. He is what made the time and effort spent on that quilt worth every moment that it took to complete it.
As you can see by the big smile on Charlie’s face (the man holding his quilt), the quilt means more than we can imagine to the person who receives our donated quilt. So if you are in the habit of making quilts for donations, don’t stop. And if you haven’t done that yet, seriously consider making one. You never know how much your quilt may make a difference in the life of someone in need. And it will make a difference in your life too!
Oh, and the quilt I donated to Crafting4aCause... It’s the one hanging down the front of the chest.
Barb Bergquist along with husband, Ron, own A Block Away Quilt Shop. A dedicated quilter with more than 25 years of experience, she is now actively sharing her love of quilting through the work in her shop.