Friday, October 3, 2014

A Special Project - 30 Quilts for 30 Years

I have a good excuse for being so lax in blogging this year. I've  been very busy with a special project!!

To make a long story somewhat shorter, I decided that I wanted to donate thirty quilts to Gift of Life Transplant House in Rochester, Minnesota. They provide affordable housing for patients waiting for, or recovering from, transplants of all sorts. I had personal connection with the house when my husband required a kidney transplant in 2012. 

One of the real comforts to be found in this facility is the presence of home made quilts on the beds. What a cheerful welcome to those of us away from home for an extended time.

I discovered that many of the quilts were quite worn out. Being a quilter, I thought that I should make a few to replace those that had done service and were ready to retire.The concept grew when I learned that 2014 is the 30th anniversary of Gift of Life.

You guessed it. I decided I wanted to donate 30 quilts!
I put out a letter explaining the project to my closest quilting friends. I talked to a nearby quilt guild and a local sewing group. A neighbor is a long-arm quilter and she offered to quilt several quilts. She got excited about the project and spread the word among her colleagues in the business and has joined me in the joy of opening these wonderful quilts, studying them and admiring their beauty. They range in size from twin to queen. They are BED quilts. Photos in this entry are just a few of the donations. I'll post more in the future.

I began getting quilt tops, completed quilts and offers to help with binding and other needs. Non-quilters wanting to participate sent money for needed supplies. I got busy making quilts myself, sewing backings for the donated tops, making and applying bindings to those that needed it and keeping a database of all the participants. I measured and photographed each quilt and began to design a label to put on each that would represent the project.

About this time the ALS 'ice bucket' campaign was taking off and it really felt like MY project was sort of doing the same thing! It just caught on and continues to do so.

All the way from New Jersey!
I came home carrying bags of quilts from any quilt meeting I went to. The Women of the West Quilters, the Maple Grove Community Senior quilters and the Quiltin' Babes just got INTO this!

I posted a brief mention of it on my Facebook page and while in Milwaukee for a seminar a friend from New Jersey said she would like to send a quilt. It arrived on my doorstep a few days later!

The majority are from Minnesota but participants literally cover the nation from California to Florida, up to Idaho, down to Nevada and Arizona and East to New far!

Today I am assured of having the 30 quilts I set out to donate and many many more. I will report on the total number when I have it but I am quite sure I will have around 60 if all the tops still needing quilting get done. I can no longer accept anything but completed quilts or I'll get behind. I may have to tie some of them but hope to have more volunteers to do the quilting as I think they last longer.

I've always known the quilting community was a generous and productive group but this year has proven to be the closest experience I've had in seeing it first hand. People do want to help others. People get joy from doing so. I have had people thank me for letting them be part of this

Yesterday I delivered four quilts that needed binding to a woman who was very excited to get them in time to have one to work on when the Vikings played that night. She does not like to watch TV without a quilt to bind and she had run out! I was so glad I could help her! :)

Watch for updates. And try the link to the Transplant House. It's a worthy place to support.

"Project Central"
My sewing room with stacks of quilts waiting for me to attach the label that will go on each quilt

These all came in from one evening at a local guild.

By the way.....
Have you made the choice to be an organ donor? 
There is a huge shortage.
 People are dying every day that could live with the generous Gift of Life.


  1. Jean, I've suspended my blog for a while and am WAY behind on reading blogs. I'm on vacation in Georgia, catching up on reading, and just read of your fabulous 30 for 30 goal. Do you want more? We won't be back home in Iowa until middle of this week (hopefully after the snowy forecast). If you still would like totally finished bed-sized quilts, I have one or two I could send to you. Sizes and styles vary, and if you're interested, let me know. I live in northern Iowa and could easily ship to you in MN. You're a generous soul. Thanks for undertaking such a worthy project!

  2. Thank you so much Vivian. The generosity of quilters is legendary. I am seeing proof of it every day.I will happily add you to the list of participants and add the two lovely quilts you are sending me to the others to be delivered to GIft of Life on December 1.

  3. Jean Thank you for your donation to GOL My husband received a stem cell transplant and we stayed at GOL just last summer. I have a friend who would like to donate her late sisters quilting supplies to you. If your interested please let me know how we can connect. Thank you again

    1. I am unable to reply to this message as there is no link. Try emailing me through my profile if you check back

  4. I know this was posted long ago but wanted to ask..they don't send the quilts home with the transplant patient who's been using them? I would donate a quilt but would want it to go home rather than washed and used over and over. When our church group donated to the Fisher House in Dallas, they asked us if we wanted it to go home or stay and be used. I think the industrial washing would wear out a quilt in a very short time.

    1. Hi Sherrill - the project was inspired by the ratty quilts on the beds when we stayed there. My goal was to replace some of those but we discussed the fact that they could use their own judgement on giving them away. The ladies that helped with making some of them said, "We'll make more!" so it was open ended. I don't even what to know what some of them may look like after many washes but it's also nice, when you are a new resident with illness to face, to see the care someone has given to making your stay as pleasant and homey as possible. thanks for reading my blog!


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