Sewing some love
Quilters craft blankets for veterans' children
May 28, 2008
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It might 'seam' like just a little something, but the ladies at Top Shelf Quilts didn't let that stop them.
Over veggie trays and cups of coffee, a group of 10 quilters settled in for a sew-in Tuesday, May 20, surrounded by spools of trains, 'Pooh's and puppies.
The room hummed with the sound of stitching from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., as the quilters prepared blankets for a special project: each of the 60 created or donated that day made its way into the hands of a child grieving for a parent injured or killed in service -- just in time for Memorial Day.
As part of a local effort for the national, non-profit organization Project Linus, quilters like Frankfort resident Barb Koning hand-picked kid friendly fabrics to piece together her blankets.
"Today, it's all about the children," Koning said, as she sewed the edge of a cowboy-themed blanket.
The quilters came from Manhattan, Flossmoor, New Lenox, Palos Heights - even Highland, Ind.
"Nothing's too far when you want to do something fun," said Highland resident Jo Wilsak. "It's a good cause."
Project Linus started in 1995, when Karen Loucks felt moved to make blankets for her local children's cancer center. Since then, the project has expanded to include youth counseling centers, charities, other hospitals and camps for kids - like Good Grief Camp, an iniative by national organization Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS).
The TAPS-organized Good Grief camp is the only one of its kind in the nation, for children who have lost a parent, sibling or loved one in military service to America. Youth who attend have a chance to share and heal in a loving environment.
Prior to the sew-in, the Will County chapter of Project Linus had shipped three boxes of blankets to the Good Grief camp in Arlington, Va.
Blankets give those kids "a little something to hold onto.
"They're given the blankets as a comfort," Koning said. "As something to hold onto before they see their parents, whether it's at the hospital or at a funeral."
Mary Howell, the owner of Top Shelf Quilts, offered up her shop as the sew-in location and a drop-off spot for the blankets.
"Anyone can drop off blankets, any time," Howell said.
Some of the blankets piled on the table were sewn ahead of time and dropped off by quilters who couldn't make the sew-in.
"It's quite a production," said Carol Welch, Frankfort resident who made 10 blankets. "It's a good, productive day."
Welch crafted all her quilts from home, averaging one or two per week. Cowboys and ducks adorned her blankets, which she packaged with a red bow and red, white and blue tags.
"I thought the red was symbolic of bloodshed, those who died," Welch said. "It makes it look kind of festive, with a big, red bow on it."
Project Linus Will County chapter director Pauline Anderson sat among the quilters at Top Shelf.
"I am awed," Anderson said. "We didn't expect this many ladies!
"They've done everything they can to help us. They've folded everything, labeled everything. All these ladies are wonderful."
For more information, visit www.ProjectLinus.org.
Lauren can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or comment by visiting www.frankfortstation.com.