A Giving Quilt: Providing Comfort

giving quilts

They refer to them as “comforters.” These hand-tied patchwork quilts arrive from quilters all over the country to local Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) offices, and are sent out into the world to provide . . . comfort.

Given out to those in need, often after catastrophes, these comforters are used in all the ways a quilt can be used when you have nothing: bed covers, room dividers, carpets, curtains, mattresses.

giving quilts

Community health organizer Osa Jonmarits received a comforter, an MCC relief bucket, and water purification tablets after his home in LaChapelle, Haiti was damaged by flooding from Hurricane Irma. Photo: Annalee Giesbrecht.

“We send out thousands and thousands of these comforters to refugees and to others in vulnerable situations,” says Les Gustafson-Zook, Constituent Relations Coordinator for MCC. “What’s really happening when you make this comforter, is a blessing. A blessing and a wish for a whole life for the recipient.”

Because these comforters are intended for refugees or any people in vulnerable circumstances, regardless of religious affiliation, the fabrics used need to avoid violent cartoon characters, guns or camouflage, characters showing too much skin, or religious imagery. What they do ask for, are prints that are bright and colorful.

giving quilts

Rachel Cartmill, a house mentor with Working Men of Christ (WMOC), an MCC Central States partner organization, includes a returning citizen care kit in the room she prepares for a new resident at one of the organization’s discipleship houses in Wichita, KS. Photo: MCC Photo/Vada Snider

“Folks like the beauty of these comforters,” says Les. “People just love that they’re colorful.” In refugee camps, where colors tend to be drab and utilitarian, the colorful comforters provide a bright spot of joyfulness.

“This amazing artwork is part of an amazing culture,” says Les. “A quilter’s scraps and talents go into building comforters, something that’s handmade by someone with love, and that’s truly awesome.”

giving quilts

Fatoum Al Kurdi receives an MCC comforter at her family’s new apartment in Winnipeg, Manitoba. The family arrived in November 2015 as refugees from the conflict in Syria, sponsored by River East Mennonite Brethren Church with support from MCC. Photo: Emily Loewen.

To learn more about MCC relief efforts, as well as their spectacular quilt auctions, visit MCC.org.

Happy quilting!

Vanessa Lyman

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