Quilting for a cause
Guild members gather to sew gifts for abused children
Steamboat Springs — Wilma Marshall can think of at least 100 quilts she has made since her first quilting project in high school.
Not long after a girlfriend enlisted her help in making a quilt, Marshall made her own quilt.
Then came quilts for friends and neighbors, children and grandchildren.
The satisfaction of making a quilt, the 87-year-old woman said, comes when she gives it away.
Marshall’s fingers worked steadily Saturday as she made another quilt, not for a friend, but for a stranger.
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A dozen or so women joined her in the Steamboat Pilot & Today community room to turn scraps of cloth into detailed pieces of handiwork for abused children.
Members of Delectable Mountain Quilters Guild sponsored the sew-in to provide quilts of all sizes and themes for the local women’s shelter.
The Morningstar quilting program works with Advocates Against Battering and Abuse to offer quilts to children ages 12 and younger who stay at the shelter.
The women began a number of projects in the morning and finished at least half a dozen by mid-afternoon.
Sharon Yannaccone coordinates the Morningstar program and brings the finished quilts to Advocates.
The program, named after the shelter’s original name, began eight years ago.
“It’s a really uplifting project,” she said.
Members of the quilting guild, which comprises more than 60 quilters, meet once a month for a day of quilting and socializing.
They make quilts throughout the year for the shelter, but this particular day in March gives them a chance to socialize while letting their fingers fly.
“It’s a tradeoff for the old-fashioned quilting bee,” said Katie Fletcher, co-chairwoman of the Morningstar program.
Fletcher pieced together material with images of Barbie.
It would make a perfect quilt for a little girl, she said.
The women pick out patterns and colors with certain ages and gender in mind.
“There’s something for everyone,” Fletcher said.
Morningstar originally supplied quilts for children ages 5 and younger. The success of the project, however, extended the age to 12 years.
The women never see the recipients of their work.
They don’t know who receives their quilts, but they know their quilts will be well loved.
When children arrive at the shelter, staff lay out several quilts for them to inspect.
The youngsters must decide which quilt suits them best.
It gives them an opportunity to have some ownership and exercise some power when they feel powerless to change the current course of their lives, Yannaccone said.
Children, upon arriving at the shelter, have just left their home and likely brought few things with them, she said.
“They don’t feel very much in control,” she added. “This (the quilt) gives them something to hold on to.”
The women who volunteer their talents to Morningstar often refer to their quilts as “Linus blankets.”
Linus, one of Charles Schulz’s famous Peanuts characters, carried his blanket with him everywhere. The worn piece of material gave the little boy security.
Like Linus, the children look to their quilts for security.
“When these kids are torn away from their homes this gives them something that is theirs,” Eva Hinkle said.
Other commitments have kept Hinkle, a charter member of the quilting guild, away from the guild’s monthly meetings, but she made an effort to come Saturday.
She said she was happy to give her quilt away to a child.
Quilts offer a certain amount of comfort than cannot always be found in other gifts, said Susan Werner, who joined the quilting guild about a year ago.
Their work gives children something reassuring, Werner added, at a time when they are unsure about many things.
Yannaccone works closely with Advocates to determine the need for quilts. One quilt requires about 20 hours of work.
Morningstar gladly accepts donations of material or money to purchase more supplies for the quilts.
Nancy Wilson, who began quilting three years ago, made her first quilt for a child at the shelter.
By looking at her own children, Wilson said, she better understands the importance of giving them something they can hold and something that offers them a sort of refuge.
The quilts donated through the Morningstar program do that, she said. “It gives them something secure in an insecure environment.”
Those wanting more information should call Yannaccone at 870-0080.
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