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Local group gives warmth, comfort to the sick

POSTED: May 4, 2012 1:30 a.m.

Being bitten by the quilting bug is both a gift and a curse.

"I quilt every single day," said Elleda Rule, who has been quilting for 11 years.

"It’s addictive."

Although her addiction leads her to create beautiful pieces she gifts to friends and family members, that wasn’t enough for Rule. She needed more outlets to share her quilts, and she found it by joining the Northeast Georgia Chapter of Quilts for Kids.

"It’s a worthy cause, and it makes me happy," said Rule, who drives up from Duluth to sew with the other members at First Baptist Church of Gainesville.

"And it gives me an excuse to quilt."

Quilts for Kids is a national nonprofit that was created by Linda Arye as a way to keep discontinued and leftover material out of landfills, while simultaneously providing comfort to children in need. Volunteers nationwide create quilts from provided kits, which are donated to children in hospitals and shelters.

After learning about the organization through fellow quilters, Hall County resident Betty Wright went to the national website to find a local chapter to join.

"I saw there was only one chapter in Georgia and that was down in Waycross, so I said we need something up here," Wright said.

Apparently, folks in and around Hall County agreed with her. Since holding a kick-off meeting in March, Wright’s group has made 22 quilts, with another two dozen in various stages of completion.

Seven have already been donated to pediatric patients at Northeast Georgia Medical Center here in Gainesville. Wright will be dropping off another batch this afternoon.

"We use patterns that we get from the national headquarters, and they’re all about 36 inches by 48 inches," Wright said.

"It takes about four to six weeks to make one."

Because the quilts have to withstand frequent washings for the hospitalized recipients, they have to be created on sewing machines.

Although Wright’s group meets regularly in an arts and crafts room at First Baptist Church — there next workshop is May 24 — potential volunteers don’t have to create their quilts there. After obtaining the free kit, quilters can make their blankets at home and mail them back to the group.

While all of the quilts are made using designated patterns, volunteers can use the provided material or their own — as long as it is 100 percent cotton. That’s one of the perks that attracted Mary Nelson.

"I’ve been collecting leftover pieces and pieces that I didn’t use for years," said Nelson, a Hall County resident.

"This is a way to use up some of that stash of fabric in my closet."

If sewing isn’t your cup of tea, Wright says they also need volunteers to help create the kits, raise funds and handle some small administrative tasks.

They could also use volunteers to help create no-sew fleece blankets to donate to shelters. No matter how limited time or crafting skills may be, Wright says there’s room for everyone.

Although they can’t create quilts for every child in need, Wright says they’re dedicated to doing what they can, "one stitch, one quilt, one kid at a time."


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