The Dalemead Quilt Guild’s Comfort Quilt Committee, a coalition of quilters in southeast Rocky View County who make quilts for the greater good, sent out a call to local quilters to donate or sponsor a quilt in support of intensive care unit (ICU) nurses at South Health Campus in Calgary.
Since the project began in October, the committee has donated more than 150 quilts in support of ICU nurses following the death of a South Health Campus nurse who faced abuse during the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in her death.
While the guild has been in operation since 1985, the Comfort Quilt Committee began to harness their creativity to help others about 10 years ago, according to Heather Tudor, an original member of the guild.
“Quilters are typically overwhelmingly generous with their art and comfort quilts are made and given by the thousands across Canada and the United States,” she said. “People are changing the world one quilt at a time. If you want to give a quilt away, there are lots of places to give it.”
Tudor said the initial request for quilts for ICU staff at Calgary's South Health Campus came from a group called Quilts 4 Everyday Heroes, who the guild works alongside to donate and supply quilts to first responders, as well as individuals suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder or other health-related issues.
The four members of the Comfort Quilt Committee – Chris Bishop, Tudor, Karen Szakaly, and Patty Beaury – have been working hard to make the project possible, but Tudor said it was Bishop who really set the project in motion.
“I can’t emphasize enough, that without Chris it would not have happened,” Tudor said. “Chris has a huge network of quilters throughout Calgary and the surrounding area that have supplied quilts for us over the years for our different initiatives.
“She reached out to them by email, and we very quickly discovered the power of social media because this email went viral.”
According to Tudor, the guild proceeded to receive an in-flow of offers for finished quilts and quilt tops, adding tops are more frequently donated because people enjoy making them, even though they are expensive and time-consuming to complete.
The committee reached out to their community on Facebook, calling for $50 to complete each quilt, and the response was more than could be anticipated.
“The response was overwhelming, and not just from Langdon,” she said. “We got money from people we don’t know, and we ended up with a total of $4,350. We didn’t have any trouble meeting 150 requests. The first delivery was just over 100 – within a month we had 150 quilts to take.
“We just want to make sure that everyone who has donated to this initiative realizes how very much we appreciate their assistance because it wouldn't have happened without all of the help that we received – the quilts, the finished quilts, the tops, the donations of fabric and padding, and the financial support,” she added.
Tudor said the last shipment of quilts is set to go to South Health Campus at the beginning of next week, but she couldn’t say exactly how many quilts have been donated in total.
“When we are delivering quilts, we like to ensure everybody gets to choose. We wanted to ensure that people who are getting the 149th or 150th quilt didn’t just have to take what was left,” she said. “We have over-delivered so that everyone gets a choice.”
She added the extra quilts will be collected and then donated to some of the committee’s other initiatives.
Other recipients of comfort quilts include the adolescent mental health unit at the Alberta Children’s Hospital, the adult and adolescent mental health unit at South Health Campus, and the Ronald McDonald House, to name a few.
“We are a very small group with a large reach and people are very generous,” she said. “They know we treat these quilts like gold and the people who receive them value them.
“People are happy to make them because we all want to make quits, but at some point, our families have had enough... but we can’t stop because that’s what we do – it’s our creative outlet. And like any artist, you just have to do it.”
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