April 21, 2011 in Washington Voices

Quilters’ work warms refugees around the world

By The Spokesman-Review
J. Bart Rayniak photoBuy this photo

The Happy Quilters at Christ Lutheran Church in Spokane Valley meet weekly to make quilts that will be donated to the Lutheran World Relief. Members photographed Tuesday with some of the 135 quilts to be donated are, from left, front row, organizers Shelle Seaholm and Sue May; second row, Eva Sturges, Manda Benton, Dorothy Wisecarver, Marian Moseman and Dolores Hanson.
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The dozen ladies who make up the Happy Quilters group at Christ Lutheran Church may be happy, but they are also busy.

This week 132 quilts were on display in the church sanctuary, draped over the backs of the pews. Every pew had quilts down its entire length, representing about six months of work. Next week the quilts will be boxed and mailed to Lutheran World Relief, which will send them around the world.

“They go to a lot of refugee camps,” said Sue May. “They go to places where there have been natural disasters. They go to orphanages.”

The quilts are all 60 inches by 80 inches and have old sheets for backing. The ladies visit Value Village and scour garage sales for sheets and other quilting materials. Some supplies are donated. They meet every Tuesday morning to create the quilts.

“I do some cutting because I’m not a sewer,” said Shelle Seaholm.

The group also makes quilts for auctions and charities closer to home. They make lap robes for patients at St. Joseph’s Care Center. “It’s because we don’t stop,” Seaholm said of the number of quilts the group makes. “It’s a constant thing.”

Twice a year the women box up and ship their creations. It may be a labor of love to make the quilts, but it does cost money to ship them. It is 21 cents a pound just to get them to Lutheran World Relief on the East Coast. Quilt makers are also asked to send an extra 54 cents per pound to pay to ship them overseas, and Seaholm said the Happy Quilters try to do that when they can. “We have someone that’s going to pay for it this time,” she said.

In their spare time the group members also get donations from the church’s congregation to make up personal care kits, health kits, baby care kits and sewing kits that are also sent to Lutheran World Relief for distribution. Every fall they prepare school kits for children around the world. “It’s really terribly worthwhile,” Seaholm said.

Perhaps the best part is that the women get to see what happens to the items they make. Lutheran World Relief sends out a newsletter that usually has stories from those who have received quilts, school kits and other items.

“We get to see,” May said. “They show us what it’s doing in the world, who is receiving it and what it means to them.”

“We love it,” Seaholm said.

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