Tired, worried and ill in their hospital room, Amanda and Ada Maxwell didn’t expect to be part of a major milestone on Friday, May 17.
The mother and her daughter were in their room in the pediatric wing of the Northeast Georgia Medical Center when in walked volunteers with the Northeast Georgia chapter of Quilts for Kids, a national nonprofit that relies on crafty volunteers to deliver handmade quilts to kids in need.
And the quilt being delivered by Betty Wright, Chris Anderson, Jane Kelser, Lorrie Kerley and Abit Massey was a special example indeed: The Maxwells received the 5,000th quilt delivered by the local chapter.
It’s been just seven years since Wright and her fellow quilters put their machines to work for the children of North Georgia, meaning they’ve managed more than 714 quilts each year — that’s almost two each day, if you’re counting.
Ada and her mom stand at the end of a more than 7-mile-long chain of handmade quilts; people have donated more than 13,000 yards (or 7.3 miles) of fabric to the cause.
The chain stretches back to the homes of more than 430 volunteers who sit down each day to start threads that will one day help bring a little warmth to a kid in need.
“It’s just been a wonderful thing for all of us to come together and work on, whether its at home or at the workshops,” Wright said. “They make some good friends out of it, and the parents, the kids and the nurses have all appreciated what we do.”
All told, volunteers at the local Quilts for Kids have delivered 2,309 quilts to the Northeast Georgia Medical Center, 309 to the Gateway Domestic Violence Center, 131 to Family Promise of Hall County and 1,363 to the Egleston and Scottish Rite campuses of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.
New quilts are delivered each Friday to the medical center in Gainesville, which washes them before handing them out to kids and their families.
A shipment of quilts also found their way to Panama City after Hurricane Michael in fall 2018.
The local chapter includes Gainesville, Gwinnett County and Nicholson near Athens, but sometime soon the Gwinnett chapter plans to split and form its own chapter closer to Atlanta, according to Wright.
And along with donations of fabric, cash donations have come in over the years as well. Individuals have donated almost $7,000 in the past seven years and the foundation of Jackson Electric Membership Corporation has donated $10,000.
This was a job that I started in retirement, and now I’m working harder than I did when I was full time,” Wright said, laughing. “When I started it, I had no idea it would grow this big this quickly. We had milestones that we would reach, and at one point — I don’t know if it was three- or four-thousand — one of my friends asked, ‘How long will it take you to get to five?’
“I thought a couple of years, probably, but we gave out 1,000 last year. So we’re here already.”
The local group was launched in March 2012.
“It’s just been a wonderful thing for all of us to come together and work on, whether it's at home or at the workshops,” she said. “They make some good friends out of it, and the parents, the kids and the nurses have all appreciated what we do.”Find out more about Quilts for Kids at www.quiltsforkids.org and the local chapter at www.negaquiltsforkids.org.