Quilting and charity work go together like needle and thread
For Catherine Sloan, quilting is a way to give back to the community.
For the past year Sloan and a group of 30 women from across Greater Sudbury and the Nipissing District have designed, sewed and assembled 50 quilts of all shapes and sizes to raise funds for NEO Kids Foundation at Health Sciences North.
After inheriting boxes of fabric from a friend Barbara last spring, Sloan turned to her friends, a network of quilters from across the region, to collaborate on what would be their largest project to date.
She organized the material into patterns and made kits for each of the quilters.
“Every time I turned around there were people who wanted to help,” said Sloan.
“Not everyone has thousands of dollars to put towards a charity. This is a way they can be part of something and make a difference.”
It can take up to 80 hours to make one quilt and some quilters have been known to spend six months on a project. So, each of the women involved in the NEO Kids quilting project focused on a specific stage of the process.
“It really was a group effort,” said Kelly Schroeder of North Bay.
The women say they recognize the importance of establishing a centre for specialized pediatric care and services in northeastern Ontario. And some of them know first-hand the challenge of having to travel to southern Ontario for specialized pediatric health care.
Bonnie Leonard of Astorville, Ont. wants more than anything to see a centre for pediatric care located in her region.
When her daughter needed to access services at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, rather than travel down south, clinical health care was provided to her through telemedicine. Leonard said that while her daughter’s needs were met, the service was less than adequate.
“To have services we could access in the north, to travel to Sudbury and meet a specialist face-to-face, would have made a huge difference,” she said.
“When your child is critically ill to have something close to you and be able to access the expertise here makes an incredible difference. It’s wonderful that one day all these services will be available in the North.”
Leonard is at a loss for words when she tries to describe why she enjoys quilting so much.
“I love chocolate, but quilting is much more than that,” she said.
“I quilt with people in mind. You stitch with love. And when quilting for charity, you see the person or child who will benefit. It’s a blanket of love, wrapped around them and hopefully it makes them feel safe and loved.”
Barb Belanger of Callander, Ont. said the project “spoke to her” on many levels; as a quilter looking to support a charity and as a mother to a son with cerebral palsy.
She recalls accompanying her son, who is now an adult, to Toronto twice for surgery. The Ronald MacDonald House Charities Toronto didn’t exist at the time so they stayed at a rooming house. Follow-up care was provided at a clinic twice a year in nearby North Bay. But that wasn’t enough, she said. A pediatric centre in Sudbury could have provided continuing care for her son. “It’s time we get something like this for our children,” she said.
Patricia Mills, President of NEO Kids Foundation said when Sloan first approached her with the idea to use the sale of quilts as a NEO Kids fundraiser, she was overwhelmed with the group’s generosity.
“But when I actually saw the 50 quilts and the attention to detail, the thoughtful designs, the pride of craft, I was awestruck, ” she said. “These quilters, whom I now call Quilting Queens, spent unknown hours laboring over the intricacies of the detail with their sole purpose to raise money to help our NEO Kids. And all of the material to make the quilts, worth thousands of dollars, was donated. We can’t thank them enough for such inspiring generosity.”
The quilts will be up for auction:
Bidding Opens: November 10, 2017
Bidding Closes: December 8, 2017