Over the past 35 years, thousands of Kansas City area residents have discovered that a quilt from this group is much more than something to curl up in to stay warm.
The Lee’s Summit Quilters’ Guild, founded in 1983, was started by those who love the art-form and enjoy camaraderie with fellow quilters. Committed to a culture of sharing, this group has expanded its mission across the metro.
Each year, this 240-member community collaborates to create and donate hundreds of their hand-crafted quilts. The University of Kansas Cancer Center, Little Sisters of the Poor, Baby Grace Place, Hillcrest Transitional Housing, the Quilts of Valor Foundation and the Veterans Community Project are just a handful of the organizations they serve.
Drawn to the Guild’s mission of giving, members come from cities across the area.
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“Generosity is true to my heart and was a very important part of why I joined the Guild,” said Melinda Griffith, of Pleasant Hill. “We’ve made so many quilts for homeless people, children and veterans. My dad and brother both served in the Navy, so that was really important, too.”
“Our members see a need in the community, and we reach out and ask what we can do,” said Karen Franke, the Guild’s community outreach coordinator. “Then, they step up and meet that need.”
One of those members is Judy Taylor, a member since 1993.
Last year, Taylor read an article about the Veterans Community Project’s tiny homes and saw a need for quilts in those new residences. She contacted the nonprofit with a proposal for the quilts, and the organization embraced her idea.
In the past few months, the quilters have completed dozens of quilts for veteran residents who are, or will be, living in the tiny homes.
As with many of the other organizations they serve, the Guild has made a long-term commitment to the project. When veterans move on from the tiny homes, they will take their quilts with them, so the need for quilts will be ongoing.
During the past several months, Guild members also made and donated T-shirt quilts to be raffled at Project’s upcoming fundraising event, The House Party. Created using Royals, Chiefs and Harley-Davidson T’s, the shirts were cut into squares and then quilted and finished with additional fabric.
Always willing to customize the quilts for the needs of the recipients, the quilters designed a unique quilt for those with Alzheimer’s disease or autism. Referred to as a “‘fidget mat,” the lap-size quilts are sewn with zippers, bead strands, and other elements recipients can play with or touch.
The Guild also creates and donates patriotic-themed quilts to the Quilts of Valor organization. The quilts are presented in special ceremonies honoring veterans for their service. The Quilts of Valor organization is close to the hearts of many Quilters’ Guild members, who have family members who served in the military. Quilts of Valor was founded in 2003 by the mother of an Iraq veteran who believed quilts could comfort, and even heal, veterans suffering the injuries of war.
A belief in the comfort, hope and healing qualities of quilts also guides the Guild’s community-focused efforts. It inspires them to cultivate new connections and seek out those who could benefit from their gifts.
“Nurses at the cancer centers have told us you can see a difference in the patients when they wrap our quilts around them,” said Donna Bland, Guild member.
“Our quilts come with a message,” she added. “It says, ‘Wrap yourself in this quilt when you need a warm hug.’”