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  • Keri Withers

Christmas Quilts

Updated: Dec 10, 2020

When I was 14 I started a job at a dry cleaners in town that also did alterations. The elderly Greek woman who did the alterations did not speak much English, but was soft spoken. I loved to sit with her and watch her sew. That was when I found my love for fabric and thread. When I was 16, I got my first sewing machine and I began my journey with quilts. I was never very good; I did not take any formal classes, or have any formal training, but I loved to express myself through the art. I loved that I could take fabric, cut it, and put it back together into a warm and comforting blanket. I have been quilting ever since.

When I was tucking my seven year old into bed a few months ago he was under three of the quilts I have made for him. I told him that my quilts were like me hugging him all night long. That simple conversation with my son made me start thinking about all the children out there who don't have their parents with them to tuck them in every night. I talked to the Rayola board members about my thought and they all agreed we wanted to be able to be there to hug them all.

Within a few weeks, we'd decided that this fall we would begin our bigger Rayola journey by making quilts, Christmas stockings, pillowcases, and ornaments for the local children and youth who are in the foster care system in Ogemaw and Roscommon counties. We hoped that this would bring some comfort and peace to people who have had an especially hard life in 2020.

The plan was to ask local quilters, and anyone who can sew to make twin size quilt tops. My good friend Anita Bartman helped us publish the request for support all over. Fellow quilters were told they could drop the quilt tops off at Aunt Effy's (the local quilt shop), or Pinnacle Rehab. If neither of those options worked, contacting Anita or me for pick-up was available.

Our goal was 61 quilts, for the 61 kids in foster care in Ogemaw and Roscommon counties. The response was incredible! We had quilt tops made by local women, people in other parts of Northern Michigan, and from out of State! In total we received 80 quilt tops, all of which will be distributed to those kids in need. Anita, myself, and many others spent the weeks collecting, quilting, and putting the binding on every single quilt.

We here at Rayola are excited to know that each foster child and youth in two Michigan counties will be given all these homemade items for Christmas. Our hope is that they can treasure something that was made just for them, feel the care and concern of others in their community, and know they are not on their own.

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