Group of grandmas sew love into quilts for children in need at Coldwater Stake

Wednesday , August 09, 2017 - 5:15 AM

JANAE FRANCIS, Standard-Examiner Staff

NORTH OGDEN — More than a dozen grandmas are working each year to wrap their love around hundreds of children they’ve never met.

Thanks to a weekly effort that produces more than two dozen quilts a month, the women who gather Tuesday mornings at the Coldwater Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints say they are happy to be serving where they can.

“It makes you feel good to think, ‘I bet this person who got this quilt loved it,’” said Lynette Campbell, who at 75 is the oldest active member of the quilting group.

Explaining that quilters choose fabrics they believe are colorful enough for their own homes, she said happiness abounds at the weekly activity. “It makes us feel good and we have a good time doing it.”

“This is how I do service,” said Carla Olcott. “ I feel like I am doing something worthwhile.”

Not all who participate are members of the church, and a few are not from North Ogden. 

The group is complete with its own mascot — Sam, short for Samantha, the 2 1/2-year-old daughter of Aubrey Cook. At 25, Cook is the youngest quilter and the only one who is not a grandmother.

A stay-at-home mother, Cook said the quilting group is just what she needs.

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“It’s a good activity for us to get out of the house and do,” Cook said. “It’s fun. I’ve made good friends.”

Cook also appreciates the number of grandmothers Sam now has adopted.

On Tuesday, while putting a tied quilt away to be sent off for binding, a 10-inch piece of batting came off the side of the project.

Campbell wadded up the extra piece of batting and threw the fluffy ball into the air. She told Sam the ball was a cloud falling from the sky.

Sam grabbed the batting as it fell to the ground and laughed as she threw it back into the air near Campbell.

Those involved say they’ve experienced a piece of heaven since the project began a decade ago. At first, the effort was designed to provide quilts for the humanitarian department of the LDS Church.

The program eventually evolved to serve veterans, homeless people and the Your Community Connection Family Crisis Center. The project now directs quilts to foster children served by the Department of Child and Family Services and by hospitals in Weber and Cache counties.

Sometimes a quilt will go to someone in need within the stake boundaries, organizers said.

One week, the group got a rare special order from the Department of Child and Family Services staff for a bright pink and purple quilt wanted by a girl who was having a struggle.

“We stayed late for this special request,” Campbell said. “We felt like she needed something personal and made for her. That made us feel good to do it.”

The group completes about 230 to 250 quilts and donates about 64,000 hours per year. Many of the hours donated happen outside the group as quilters prepare supplies and complete quilts in their homes.

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Organizers say material donations often come from surprising sources. One member of the group was standing in line during checkout at a store and the project came up in conversation with someone who then donated.

Sometimes boxes of fabric, yarn or batting is delivered by pickup loads, organizers said. Stake leaders budget for the rolls of batting.

Occasionally, the group also performs other service projects such as making dresses, small toys and matching pillowcases. They have collected items for hygiene kits.

Last year for Christmas, the group made 157 cinch backpacks, complete with smaller bags inside for storage.

Many in the area contributed items to fill the bags and helped thread carrying cords into the bags.   

While the difference they make in the community is important to those who participate, so are the friendships made while serving.

“Sometimes, people think the quilts are the most important,” said Colleen Atkinson, a group leader. “I think the sisters coming and doing the service is as important as the quilts we make.”

Atkinson said she tries to be entertaining in her Monday texts to her friends reminding of the quilting activity.

“The best antiques are old friends,” was one quip she sent to the group.

Quilting group members say they do what they can to serve each other.

Once a woman has attended three times, she gets a quilting apron made by Evelyn Wirick, an active participant.

The small aprons have pockets for quilting tools and strips of fabric designed as a portable pin cushion.

Wirick also hands out gifts during occasional group parties, Campbell said.

Joyful service is how Wirick described her efforts to support the group.

“It’s really therapy for all of us,” Wirick said. “We all come because we need to fill in the time.”

You can reach reporter JaNae Francis at jfrancis@standard.net or 801-625-4228. Follow her on Twitter at @JaNaeFrancisSE or like her on Facebook at facebook.com/SEJaNaeFrancis. 

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