By Niesha Lofing Published: Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2011 - 12:00 am Page 1D Last Modified: Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2011 - 9:02 am
Their composition is simple: fabric, thread and batting.
Some have playful, simple designs, while others are meticulously composed, not a stitch out of place.
No matter what their makeup or design, to the children who receive them, these are more than just quilts. They are proof that someone cares.
Quilts for Kids, a national nonprofit organization with chapters throughout the country, has been making and distributing quilts to abused children and children with life-threatening illnesses for more than 10 years.
"Whatever they want to do to help is appreciated," said Malissa Thorman, volunteer coordinator for the south
Thorman launched the chapter after making her first quilt for the national Quilts for Kids group. A quilting friend had brought her the kit, which after completion would be sent back to headquarters in
But the cost to ship it got Thorman thinking. After all, $10 could buy a lot of fabric, and then she could just donate the quilts to a local children's hospital.
After recruiting a few more volunteers and making several quilts for DavisQuilts4Kids, Thorman decided to create her own chapter.
She plans to donate 10 quilts this week to the Child Life Program at Sutter Children's Center in
"I don't have children, but having a sick child seems to be one of the most horrific things to go through," Thorman said. "When I make a donation and know that children will be happier that day because of work myself and other people did, that's the best part."
The quilts, along with other blankets made by various groups and individuals for the Child Life Program, bring comfort to the patients and parents in the hospital's neonatal intensive care unit, pediatrics intensive care unit, and pediatric ward, said Amy Medovoy, the program's coordinator.
"The kids and parents are really touched to know that people think of the children in the hospital and make these things for them," he said. "It goes a long way to make people feel supported."
On rare occasions, volunteers get to witness just how special the quilts are to the children.
In July 2009, volunteers with DavisQuilts4Kids were allowed to watch as children hospitalized at UC Davis Medical Center chose their quilts during the Downy Touch of Comfort campaign.
"It was a surreal thing for us because the kids are really sick – you could tell they didn't feel good," said Cindy Nelson, co-founder of the
Children or their parents could choose their favorite from among the 75 quilts donated. Many children left clutching their quilt to their chest.
"They loved it," said Nelson, whose chapter has made about 800 quilts since it began in January 2008.
About 20,000 volunteers make quilts for the grass-roots Quilts for Kids organization. The group was founded when Linda Arye, an interior designer, was trying to come up with a way to keep huge bags of remnants from being thrown away at a fabric mill.
Now, volunteers can choose to get their kits – which include fabric squares, a pattern and a Quilts for Kids label (volunteers provide thread and batting) – from headquarters or participate with local chapters.
Regardless of how they volunteer, the result is always admirable.
"It's just amazing what the volunteers do," said Pam Fox, communications director for Quilts for Kids. "It's like they're quilting for their own family's children and grandchildren."
Want to volunteer or donate to Quilts for Kids? Here's where you can go for more information:
Quilt kits may also be obtained through the Quilts for Kids organization in
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Thorman was at work one day when a friend asked if she wanted to make a quilt for the Quilts for Kids project. “I’d never quilted before. So I just followed the directions and it was really easy. And when I did it, my gosh I want to make another one.” The quilts are donated to kids undergoing long and often debilitating treatment at children’s hospitals across the nation.
Thorman was hooked. “The first one I made it had these like Converse high top sneakers all over it and it was so cute. It was really bright colors. Totally reminded me of when I was in high school and I used to color my sneakers and make all these crazy designs on them. Because you could. It just made me kind of think and out the child. Because you don’t know what illness they have. You don’t know if they’re going to get better. So it just made me think, gosh I hope this quilt makes them feel good and that they will realize that someone is thinking about them and make them smile. Because it was making me smile when I was making it.” (Click here to read more stories behind other quilts and responses from the families of the children they help.)
Before long Thorman had convinced a small group of others to volunteer and began the
Amy Medevoy was only too glad to hear about Quilts for Kids. Medevoy has worked for
Thorman now needs some extra help. Rather, more kids need quilts than Thorman can do by herself. “I could use volunteers who want to sew,” explains Thorman. “If people have fabric lying around in their garage that they don’t need and don’t want. I can’t use old sheets and old blankets. It needs to be new 100% cotton fabric. Even if it’s just a little scrap, that can go into making this border right here. No scrap is really too small. What I don’t use, I will re-purpose.”
Thorman wants people to know how easy it is to create a quilt. Sewing takes only about 3 hours total and you can sew a few squares in between television programs. “You start out with a bag of scraps. Free cut. And you just sew them together and you end up with something like this at the end of it.” You can even download the quilt patterns for free from the Quilts for Kids website.
If you want to reach Malissa Thorman to help the sick children in our community email firstname.lastname@example.org. Even if you can’t sew, you can help put kits together or programs who could use quilts and, as Amy Medevoy will be the first to say, “It’s just a beautiful way to offer some comfort and also let kids and families know that other people in the community are caring about them.”