Kindness Matters! Charity Quilts Give Comfort

December is a month of giving… if you turn on the radio or TV at any given hour and you are likely to hear non-stop fund drives and requests for food, toys, and funds. We all want to share what we have… This year, the calls for donations have really hit home as so many in our country have been affected by storms, fires, and earthquakes. It seems the need is never ending. How can we help?

ABOVE: Charity quilts from QuiltCon. Photo by Lauren Hunt.

It has been heartbreaking to watch Alaskans try to rebound from an earthquake, forest fires ravage the golden hills of California, hear about hurricanes and floods pounding down on the coast, and to know that countless people have been left homeless by these tragedies. It makes me want to reach out in any way that I can. I know that the first call from charities is for funds, and I’ve donated already. But as a quilter, I also know that charity quilts can give comfort and warmth to a stranger in need. These people have lost everything; the least I can do is to share my abilities and make a quilt.

charity quilts

Modern quilters create dozens of amazing quilts for charity, as in this detail of a quilt made by the Tulsa MQG and shown at QuiltCon 2018.

What Can We Do?

“When tragedy strikes and people are suffering, quilters want to help. Many quilters use their gifts and talents to help those in need by either donating quilts or raising money. Even small acts of kindness can have a big impact.” — Abby Glassenberg

Yes, quilters are a generous bunch, and there are many things you can do to make a difference. Here’s a list of five ways you can help those in need. And yes, making a quilt is one of them!

charity quilts

Charity quilts exhibit. Photo by Lauren Hunt.

Five Ways Quilters Can Help

1. Support Disaster Relief

I’m not going to name charities, but we all know that some are better than others at putting your monetary donations to work. Find a charity that fits your criteria, and consider making a donation to support disaster relief. Every dollar helps.

charity quilts

Yes, it is worth it! Photo courtesy of Cheryl Arkison

2. Act Locally

National disasters get lots of attention, but you may also find needs within your own community. Work with your local homeless shelters, food banks, and charitable organizations to find ways that you can donate or volunteer.

3. Plan Ahead

Get a list of items charities need before you hit the stores. Homeless shelters may always need men’s socks (this is a really great sock option if you are looking for one – affiliate link), but they could have an overabundance of sleeping bags on hand. And consider taking your teenagers along to pitch in. Everyone in the family can help shop for the food bank or distribute dinner at a soup kitchen.

charity quilts

Photos from the auction Nicole held over Instagram to benefit Hurricane Harvey victims. Photo courtesy of Nicole Daksiewicz.

4. Think Outside the Box

When Hurricane Harvey hit Southern Texas in 2017, modern quilter Nicole Daksiewicz organized an auction of handmade quilts and items to raise funds for the storm victims. “I think it ended up being a two-week full-time job, and I didn’t expect it to be like this at all,” she said. Nicole’s auction raised a whopping $26,900, and it took place entirely on social media. (You can read Abby Glassenberg’s article about it in the 2018 QuiltCon magazine.)

charity quilts

This is an easy pattern, perfect for charity quilts.

 

5. Make a Quilt

Consider making a charity quilt to share when times get tough. I try to have one on hand at all times, ready to ship to an individual or organization that is collecting for a cause. Simple quilts that are large enough to cover an adult (lap or twin) work best. My local quilt group introduced me to the disappearing nine-patch technique several years ago, and I’ve made several versions of this quilt for charitable donations.

There’s a Tanzanian proverb that says, “Little by little, a little becomes a lot.” I hope everyone finds a generous way to say “I care” to those in need. This is the time of year we all consider giving just a little bit more of our time, talent, and possessions to others. If we all give a little, pretty soon it will be a lot.

Best,

Vivika

Updated December 13, 2018.

Comments (7)

  • Elizabeth B. M

    Hi, I’m Elizabeth B. Marsh, and I have a problem. I’m in my 70s and am a quilt artist of many years. Unfortunately, my knees are bad, and I can no longer do machine quilting, but I have made hundreds of quilt tops for members of my club to do for charity. Recently, I discovered that my best quilts, instead of going to needy people are instead being grabbed up by anybody who has 20 bucks to give. I spend $80 on materials for making baby quilts, and each quilt I have made takes over 40 hours average apiece, just to do the top. I worked on a church foundation, and the lesson I first learned was that when people give to the foundation and specify a use for their money (i.e. support homeless people, orphans, fatherless children, etc.) the gift goes to that and only that cause. I put out the word not only when I started but several times after that to give my quilts to community people who are victims of fire, jobless, fatherless kids, aids babies, wheelchair seniors, wounded warriors, and other people in the community who are down on their luck. I’m sick of making tops for rich women to snatch up and pay someone $200 to quilt them. It kills my incentive to keep doing that. Does your charity branch have people to quilt and insure that the quilt goes to charity and not to a lazy ditz who wants something for practically nothing? If so, I will cheerfully supply tops as I can make them with my health issues. Surely someone there understands that if someone has a gift, it has to be forfeited up to the poor, the fatherless, handicapped vets, or fire victims who lost all in a fire. I want my quilts to replace a loss, not to fund wealthy people to resale my gifts for a 100% profit to themselves and not a cent to charity. I wouldn’t want to place a burden on a quilter’s group, but you’d think from their attitude I was a bad apple for denying personal access and use of my small works of art for the poor. Thanks, Elizabeth B. Marsh, beautress@outlook.com

    November 22, 2018 at 9:54 pm
    • Carrie Sisk

      Hi Elizabeth – thank you so much for making quilts for others! When donating quilts in the future, we recommend contacting the organization you’re thinking of donating to directly to express your concerns and get your questions answered. As you know, every organization operates differently, but most will have a website with contact information available. They may also have a page on their website that explains the donation process. For example, The Quilts of Valor® Foundation has an enormous amount of information on guidelines for making quilts to donate, how to donate quilts, and how the donation process works. Thank you for your comment and we appreciate your kindness!

      December 19, 2018 at 5:45 pm
  • Linda K

    Hello Elizabeth, I do longarm quilting for Central Sewing Volunteers here in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. All of our quilts go directly to the local women’s shelter.

    December 18, 2018 at 6:39 pm
  • Hollie M

    Sometimes you just have to wonder. A ladies group I use to piece tops for would get donated material and take the good stuff and leave the ok stuff. A little misguided. I quilt for Quilts of Valor and Quilts Beyond borders. Just pantograph I won’t be back up in running till January or worse case February as we are building a new home and well enough said. If I can help let me know.

    Hollie in Texas
    hlmcneely@yahoo.con

    December 18, 2018 at 8:07 pm
  • Pamela P

    I make quilts for Camp Erin, a bereavement camp for children 6-12 who have lost a parent or sibling. A quilt is put on every bunk, and the children use them for many activities and then take them home. I am sorry to say, but every year we run short, and scramble to get enough for every bed. I get pics of kids using the quilts to wrap themselves up in around campfires, and memory paper launches (held a dusk) and recognize the ones I have made. No middleman. I give them directly to camp organizer, who is a bereavement counselor. The quilts must be all cotton, measure 44 x 56 (so they fit on bunks) and machine quilted. I would be more than happy to finish/quilt/back any you could donate. Last year we needed 110! Will even pay postage for you! Just send me an e-mail. The love you put into a quilt will surround a child, not be sold to someone.
    I also do some for Quilts of Valor.
    I am a Mental Health Disaster Volunteer with a large national organization, and have deployed to the California wildfires, Hurricane Florence and Hurricane Michael. The quilts would not be able to be used lovingly in those situations. I do recommend $$, and can tell you I have distributed so much for immediate needs. If you have donated water, I gave it out! And if you donated $$, it got me there! And the food, shelter for all of us to live. But quilts are too much to travel, store, clean and distribute to large numbers (751 people in shelter in Florida).
    So email me whenever you want, and I will make sure that your quilts are loved as much by the recipients as the love you put into them. Thank you for sharing your talents and heart, however you see fit.
    ppratt@juno.com

    December 18, 2018 at 10:35 pm
  • Paula D

    Dear Elizabeth

    I just sent you a long email about Quilts2Heal. We started the day after Sandy Hook elementary school shooting in Connecticut and have created and distributed quilts throughout 12 states after hurricanes tornadoes etc. and to those affected by personal tragedy. We also create personalized quilts for veterans. We are a registered tax exempt 5013C since 2013. We would be honored to have/finish your quilts to be distributed to people who really have a need. We tag and have an inventory number for each quilt which helps us keep records of who created the quilt and where it is distributed to someone in need. We have a website Quilts2Heal.org which tells some of our story and mission.
    The hardest part of what we do is finding truly responsible contacts who will actually give these created these quilts created by volunteers to truly needy individuals. We insist on photos of the distributions to help ensure out Quilts are going to people in need. I would sincerely appreciate if you would contact me 860.306.7000 or Quiltst2heal@comcast.net
    Paula DeSilva
    Founder and President

    December 19, 2018 at 2:51 pm
  • Vivika Hansen DeNegre

    Thank you all for reaching out and letting us know about more ways to share comfort and quilts with those in need. Your generosity and kindness are inspiring! I know firsthand how a quilt can make someone feel loved and appreciated in the worst of times. Keep sharing your experiences with us, and most of all, keep sharing your quilts with those in need. Best, Vivika

    December 19, 2018 at 5:46 pm

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