The Coast’s “Quilts for Kids” Helps Sick and Abused Children
Quilts are an important piece of our heritage and can bring much more than physical comfort. They offer insight into the social, cultural and economic history of an area. Quilts tell stories of people and events, expressing their makers’ artistic abilities while adding comfort and warmth to lives. Quilts hold memories of the materials used to create them. They are also works of art and many become treasured family heirlooms that will be passed down through generations.
Quilting traditions are particularly prominent in the United States. Quilting is a communal activity, often involving several women and girls in a family or community. Research has shown that the repetitive motions of quilting can help relax our brains. The sense of accomplishment quilters feel when completing a project also ties directly into stress relief, as it boosts confidence in our creative abilities.
Over 20 years ago, a nonprofit called Quilts for Kids was started and a new and important quilting tradition began. The nonprofit’s founder started the organization when she discovered that thousands of pounds of fabric samples in cities across the country were being sent to landfills. She decided to save the discarded fabric samples while helping children in need. Quilts for Kids transforms fabrics into patchwork quilts to comfort children facing serious illness, trauma, abuse and natural disasters. There are chapters all over the United States and in Canada. Coastal Mississippi is now fortunate to have our own Quilts for Kids chapter started last spring, by local resident Katie Reus.
After taking a 12-week class and getting hooked on quilting, Reus had a growing fabric stash and began looking for places to donate quilts for local kids in need. After learning about Quilts for Kids and discovering there wasn’t a chapter on the coast, Reus decided to start one.
“Our chapter is small and so far, we’ve donated 28 quilts to every single child at the Pascagoula location of Gulf Coast Pediatric Care,” Reus said. “Our chapter has chosen to donate quilts to Gulf Coast Pediatric Care, a day center for medically fragile children on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi. Many of these wonderful kids are technology-dependent and in wheelchairs, and we want to give them something special.”
The chapter is currently working toward getting enough donations for the Gulfport Pediatric Care location by November/December. Reus’s goal is to have a quilt for every child before Christmas.
“I would love to get more people involved in the community,” Reus said. “I am always looking for expert quilters to donate their time and skills by teaching a workshop. I’m also looking for local quilt shops that would allow us to hold a charity quilt-along event in their space.”
Want to get involved? Follow Ocean Springs Quilts for Kids (OSQFK) on Facebook and @quiltsforkidsos on Instagram or make direct contact via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Ashley Karcher is a freelance writer living in Ocean Springs with her husband and four children.