Quilting Angels Sew for Kids and Vets
A quilting group from Mother Seton Parish create unique quilts for kids with cancer and veterans.
If altruism had a voice, it would carry louder than the hum of a dozen portable sewing machines, over the sound of ripping cloth and affable conversation into the small piles of 100 percent cotton fabric on the tables in a room at Mother Seton Parish where quilters meet twice a month with one goal in mind: to sew a hundred quilts for children with cancer and another hundred quilts for veterans by the end of every year.
Using donated and scrap fabric, Mother Seton Parish Quilting Angels made 105 Quilts for Kids for children with cancer and 103 Quilts of Valor for veterans last year. While the children’s quilts have a playful theme, quilts for veterans have a red, white and blue color scheme and a more somber tone. Each quilt takes an average of 20 hours to select, cut, piece and quilt and all the quilts are unique with different colors and patterns because the quilters at Monsignor Thomas Wells do not use an assembly line approach when quilting.
Kathy Thorne, who leads the group, said just seeing children and soldiers wrap the quilts around themselves makes her group members want to quilt more.
“We just think of it as somebody in need and quilting is something that most of us love to do,” she said.
Glenda Buchanan, a retired Germantown resident joined the group for the conversation and friendship. As she labels the finished quilts without breaking rhythm, she explains that having more quilters in the group to help with patterns and colors benefits soldiers and children receiving the quilts. She said all the quilts she sees are beautiful, each just as the other.
“Oh, I like all of them,” she said. “I am always saying ‘oh that’s gorgeous. Oh those colors are wonderful.’ And five minutes later there is another one just as wonderful.”
Not all quilters are from Germantown community. Deb Tiefenthaler from Ohio regularly sends her quilts to Mother Seton for finishing while Lynn Radliff makes the three-hour drive to the parish once a month from outside Philadelphia to join her friends in quilting.
Radliff said making quilts for veterans is like giving soldiers a thank you hug for their sacrifice and service.
“A lot of these people are people that are in a nursing home and it is nice to say thank you very much when they came back but now many years later to say ‘We still think you are a great guy or a great woman’ and this is what the quilt is for,” she said.
Mother Seton Parish Quilting Angels have different levels of experience. First time quilter Mildred White brought her granddaughter Neelsville Middle School eighth grader Cheyanne White. Cheyanne told her grandmother she wanted to learn how to sew clothes and the elder White thought returning soldiers deserved something nice for their service.
On the machine next to them, Scott Sledjeski takes out a seam to replace a square pattern whose fabric has ran out. Under the guidance of his mother, Kay Sledjeski, Jeff is making a practice quilt for his new cousin, but will make a quilt for a veteran for his next project as part of his 70 hours of community service mandatory before graduating from Montgomery County public schools. Kay Sledjeski said making quilts for soldiers and children with cancer was the only way her son could put in the most community service hours in one day.
Kay Thorne who heads the quilters says the quilts are labeled and blessed before distribution. The quilters sometimes meet the soldiers and children who will be using the work of their hands, but sometimes the quilts are distributed through a national network and the quilters never meet the people who use their quilts.
Thorne said she chokes up and tears when someone calls to say they received a quilt from the Mother Seton Parish Quilting Angels, but the quilters are just happy to help out.
“It is a reward all unto itself,” she said. “We just hope that some one loved what we did for them and that is enough. That is enough.”
Correction: The caption on the image with the boy sewing was originally labeled incorrectly. The boy's name has been corrected as Scott Sledjeski.