“The original idea was to give (blankets) to children who’ve experienced trauma,” said Willow Valley Quilt Guild member Carol Vardeman, who has spearheaded the group’s involvement with Project Linus. Named for the “Peanuts” character who is never without his security blanket, Project Linus strives to provide love and comfort through gifts of new, handmade blankets and afghans to children who are seriously ill, traumatized, or otherwise in need. Small quilts are also accepted.
Since September 2012, the Willow Valley Quilt Guild has made 350 quilts for Project Linus. The items are distributed within Lancaster County through hospitals, shelters, and more.
Before Vardeman moved to Willow Valley Communities from northern Virginia in 2010, she had been involved with a quilt guild that had an organized Project Linus component. After she joined the Willow Valley Quilt Guild and discovered that members were individually working on items for Project Linus, she offered to coordinate a group effort.
Now, group members gather in the quilt studio in the Manor section of the campus on the first Monday of every month for their version of a quilting bee. They cut patches, piece quilt tops, and sandwich batting between cloth layers. The resulting items are sent to Vardeman’s daughter in South Carolina, who uses a long-arm quilting machine to sew the layers together. The finished quilts are shipped back to the guild, and a cloth label is sewn onto each item.
The group finishes about six quilts a month, Vardeman reported. Some of the supplies are purchased by the guild, but much of the thread and material comes from group members’ own stashes. Residents who are not guild members also donate supplies.
“People will bring me lots of fabric,” Vardeman said.
Additionally, Willow Valley resident Jean Wannamacher, who is not a guild member, enjoys piecing quilts so much that she donates 100 tops a year to the guild for finishing.
Vardeman delivers the completed quilts, as well as knit and crocheted afghans, to the Project Linus Lititz/Lancaster chapter drop-off site at Legacy Yarn Company, 2611 Willow Street Pike, Willow Street. She noted that shop owner and Project Linus volunteer Wanda King is highly complimentary of the guild’s contributions, consistently praising the quality of the finished pieces.
In addition to helping the community at large, the Willow Valley Quilt Guild is active within Willow Valley Communities. Guild projects have included the manufacture of fidget squares for the memory care unit and lap robes for wheelchair users. Guild members offer quilting lessons to those who would like to learn the craft or improve their existing skills. Additionally, the guild has initiated the creation of a barn quilt following the examples of Quilt Trails in other states. The group proposed a design for the painted project, which has received approval from Willow Valley Communities and is slated to be installed on the exterior of the white barn near the Mylin House on the Willow Lakes Campus. A dedication of the artwork is hoped to be held on Tuesday, Sept. 12.
The Willow Valley Quilt Guild was founded in 2007 by residents Nancy Long and Margaret Thorpe. Vardeman noted that when she joined, the guild had only 23 members, but that number has nearly tripled to the current count of 65. Meetings typically feature a presentation of interest to quilters, and attendees may display finished projects.
By Dayna M. Reidenouer
This article originally appeared in The Advertiser. Posted here with permission from Engle Printing and Publishing Co., Inc.