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Seniors warmed by group's gesture
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From left, Betty Wright, Carol Johnson, Peggy Johnson and Terry Powers, all members of the Hall County Quilt Guild, created these “lap cozies” for residents at Bell Minor Nursing Home. - photo by ALANA SWAIN

Over 80 residents of Bell Minor Nursing Home were treated to handmade “lap cozies” from members of the Hall County Quilt Guild on Wednesday during a small morning reception in Gainesville.

“The guild members came with 84 cozies and all the residents went down and they picked their own,” said Eleanor Valle, activities coordinator at Bell Minor. “The residents really enjoyed it — now they are all going around with their blankets on and showing everyone their cozies. They’re beautiful, gorgeous,” Valle said.

The lap cozies are quilts made especially for people in wheelchairs, as the design prevents them from getting caught in the wheels when the chair is in use.

“They are designed to be on a person’s lap but not get into the wheels of their wheelchair,” said Marilyn Johnson, the guild’s community service director who helped deliver the lap cozies to the residents at Bell Minor, along with members Carol Johnson, Peggy Johnson, Betty Wright, and Terry Powers.

“It’s like a smaller quilt, and the bottom is shaped like a trapezoid, so that’s where it doesn’t get caught in the wheels,” Johnson said.

Resident Mary Frances Wilinski chose a cozy with a design of a tree and a house, while resident Grace Jarrett selected a Chinese-themed cozy, which included a fortune cookie print design.

This is the second year the Hall County Quilt Guild, which has over 100 members, has made the lap cozies for a local nursing home. The project is an additional service activity the guild has taken on, as it also makes quilts for Eagle Ranch as its main project, and for children staying in local hospitals.

“Our former president, Joan Garland, suggested this project — she’s the one who instigated it, because her goal was to have as many people as possible involved in community service,” said Marilyn Johnson.

Additionally, the quilts made for the guild’s other service projects typically serve children, so Marilyn Johnson said the lap cozy project was a good way to meet the needs of a different group in the community.

The guild added a fun element to the project by instating a challenge during the process of creating the cozies, Marilyn Johnson said.

“For the cozies that we made, we used it as a challenge to see who could make the best use of 5-inch squares to create a new design, and we awarded a prize,” she said.

The result was an increase of cozies to donate with 84 completed, up from 60 last year.

“We had about 40 different ladies who helped make these cozies. ... I had at least one member who turned in 10 of them. I made a few and I would say it took about four to five hours to make one,” Marilyn Johnson added.

Members of the guild come from several areas in and outside the county, and Marilyn Johnson said the organization is always welcoming more members to join and assist with its many service projects.

“I’m already being asked if we will do it again next year,” she said with a laugh. “It was very fun to watch the residents make their selections.”

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