Volunteers create quilts to help give those suffering from a local disaster a sense of home

By Eric Alves, Regional Communications Specialist, American Red Cross of Northeast Ohio

August 26, 2019- Imagine that one day your home, unfortunately, is lost in a home fire. On the darkest day of your life, when you have lost everything you own, you stand there lost, unsure of how you will ever recover.

Now imagine an American Red Cross Disaster Action Team (DAT) member standing next to you providing you comfort and guidance on the many ways the Red Cross could assist you. Then the DAT worker provides you and your family with a handmade quilt, giving you a sense of home and reassurance that you will get back on your feet.

This is the experience of residents in Carroll, Harrison, Stark and Tuscarawas Counties who have been affected by a local disaster.

The quilts are a project of compassion for a group of Stark and Muskingum Lakes Chapter volunteers. Hazel Betz, Dolly Gibas, Carol Krantz, Martha MacLachian, Irene McGill, Pat Mercier, Wilma Nicholson, Donna Phillimore and Jean Phillimore, more affectionately known as the “sewing ladies,” channel their love with each stitch and patch.

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“The impact the sewing ladies have on individuals who are facing the worst day in their lives cannot be understated,” said Kim Kroh, executive director for the Stark and Muskingum Lakes Chapter. “These women show that everyone has a part to play in helping get people back on their feet following a local disaster. The simple act of creating quilts with compassion has a lasting and powerful effect on individuals who have lost everything. They truly are instrumental members of the Stark and Muskingum Lakes Chapter.”

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The nine women meet at the chapter’s Canton office. Amid batting and fabric donated by JoAnn Fabrics, the ladies share laughter and friendship, and like an assembly line, the ladies each have a specific task. From organizing fabric to finishing touches, the group takes pride in every detail to let people suffering from a local disaster know that someone cares.

Once the quilts are complete, there is one last detail. Each quilt gets a special tag sewn into a corner. The tag, which has heart symbols, reads “Handmade by the American Red Cross Stark and Muskingum Lakes Chapter.”

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Once they are done, the quilts are placed inside an emergency response vehicle. Each family who suffer a home fire or other local disaster receives one quilt per bed inside the residence.

This year, the sewing ladies of the Stark and Muskingum Lakes Chapter were able to partake in a special honor. During the Crossroad Division meeting in Columbus, in honor of Division Vice President Sue Richter’s 50th anniversary with the Red Cross, Sue was presented with a special quilt, sewn by the women, which featured the Red Cross’ symbol.

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Carol, Dolly, Donna, Hazel, Irene, Jean, Martha, Pat and Wilma exemplify what it means to be a Red Crosser. Not only do they show that there is a volunteer opportunity to fit anyone’s interest, but with each stitch, and every quilt made, these women provide hope and a warm sense of home during someone’s darkest hour.

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If you would like to use your skills and interests to help others and become a Red Cross volunteer like the sewing ladies, please visit redcross.org/volunteer to find opportunities in your area.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

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