Spreading Sunshine

Baby Hope loves her quilt

Updated: 8/6/2005

This story was written by Citizen Journalist Patricia Ryan. We encourage you to click the Tip Jar to support this writer's work.

by Patricia Ryan

Happy News Citizen Journalist

A light is shining from sewing machines across America. It is far brighter than the glow of the tiny, 4-watt bulbs which illuminate fabric, and allow quilters to create tiny works of art on these machines. It is a light of hope, friendship and love. To some, it is a ray of sunshine in what might otherwise be considered a dark and dismal time in their lives. For three years, the Sunshine Quilters have been spreading the warmth of this light by making quilts for children in need throughout the United States. The group was originally started by Rose Harvey, as a way to unite quilters across the country.

These women all had one purpose in mind, to use their sewing skills to help others. By using the internet as a vehicle, 'Rosy' was able to promote her idea to fellow quilters that wanted to help make a difference in the world. Soon after, women with screen names such as 'Write2It', 'Char77' and 'Gma Helen' were working together, and the group was "spreading sunshine into the receiver's lives" by delivering completed quilts to charitable organizations. It may seem impossible for women that have never met in person, and live hundreds of miles away from each other to create a quilt together, but a system has been worked out that makes it quite simple.

Each month, two of the members act as hostesses. They choose a quilt block that they would like to receive, and sometimes even specify a color arrangement for that block. The other members all sew a square for each hostess and send it through the mail. The hostess pieces these squares together, creating one or more quilts from them, and donates the finished product to the charity of her choice. Like the quilts they produce, the Sunshine Quilters themselves, now comprised of over 30 members, are all singular pieces that come together to form something beautiful. These members stay in contact by posting messages in a monthly thread on the HGTV message boards.

Over the years, the women have not just helped others. They have forged friendships, and, in doing so, have created a support group for each other as well. When one of the members of the group became ill, the ladies joined forces, along with another on-line quilting group called the Cyber Friends Quilting Guild, as well as members of the HGTV message boards, and were able to collect over $800, which was given to her as a gift, to help cover some of her expenses. This is just one way in which the group helps each other. Everyday there are posts from the members asking for advice, or just venting their frustrations. For each one of those types of posts, there are 5 replies offering words of encouragement and support.

Surrounding yourself with positive people allows you to accomplish extraordinary things, and this group is certainly no exception. Over the years, they have been able to donate over 50 quilts to charities such as Project Linus, Binky Patrol, Love Knots, Joshua House and Birthright Services. Sometimes the quilts are even just given out as a random act of kindness, such as the one that 'Quiltaholic' gave away in a parking lot. She spotted a young mother attending to her baby, and couldn't help but notice that it didn't seem as if the young woman had much in the way of material things. Knowing that there was a completed quilt in her car, she asked the infant's mother if she had a blanket for the baby. When the mother replied with a no, 'Quiltaholic' presented the young woman with the quilt from her trunk. Another lucky recipient of a gift of sunshine in the form of a quilt was Lelani Hope, an at-risk baby in foster care. When she came into the lives of her foster parents, Dennis and Vicki, two-and-a-half years ago, she had been diagnosed with major digestive problems, and had to have surgery to install a feeding tube. With her birth parents unable to take care of her, due to problems with drug addiction, Dennis and Vicki decided to adopt her. This is when Sunshine Quilter, and Lelani Hope's new grandmother, 'Old Lou' decided that baby Hope needed a quilt to take with her on her visits to the hospital. In their continuous effort to "spread sunshine" some of the members of the group are working on a special bonus project, a quilt for Joe Torre's Safe At Home Foundation. The quilt will be made using 12-inch blocks called "Nine-Patch". This block is one of the easiest quilt blocks to make, and is perfect for beginners. Instructions on how to make a "Nine-Patch" block are included below. The group is always happy to welcome new members, and this project is a perfect way to get started.

You can find out more about the Sunshine Quilters by visiting them on the web at: http://webpages.charter.net/cmladronka SIMPLE NINE-PATCH BLOCK To begin making this quilt block, you will need to choose two different fabrics, which you will cut into 4 ½ -inch squares. You will need a total of five 4 ½ -inch squares of Color A, and four 4 ½ -inch squares of Color B. After you have your squares cut, lay them out as follows: Row 1: A - B - A Row 2: B - A - B Row 3: A - B - A Begin by sewing together each row, using a ¼ -inch seam. When you have all 3 rows completed, using a warm iron, press the seam allowances toward the darker fabric. You will now join the rows by sewing them together, again using a ¼ -inch seam allowance. Press your seam allowances, and that's it! You have completed a simple nine-patch quilt block! If you would like to help the Sunshine Quilters with their Safe At Home Foundation quilt project, completed nine-patch quilt blocks can be mailed to: Sunshine Quilters Project 21 East Main Street Fillmore, New York 14735

Patricia Ryan is a freelance writer. She currently lives in Fillmore, NY with her husband, Bill, and their nine children.

This story was produced by a Happynews Citizen Journalist.

For more information on contributing to Happynews, click here.

This story was produced by Happynews Citizen Journalist Patricia Ryan.

For more information on contributing to Happynews, click here.

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