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Quilters Join Red Cross Efforts and Make a Difference posted: 7/13/2003
by Hallye Bone Printable Page
Category: General Method: All
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After the brutal September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, every American, wanted to do something, to make a difference, and to help the victims. Our American Red Cross, as always, was there: in New York, in Pennsylvania, and everywhere they were needed. Unique in its aid, the Red Cross offered vital aid. American quilters, too, are known for their altruism and care for others. They reached out and did what they could do: they made quilts. Some stitched to heal their heavy hearts; some made quilts to raise money for those in need.

Ann Hazelwood, owner of Patches, Etc. Quilt Shop in St. Charles, MO., recognized the heroism of the Red Cross and decided to use their slogan, "Together, we can save a life." In her weekly email, she mails messages to 3,000 quilters throughout the nation. The next week, she requested "Red Cross" blocks and planned a massive fund-raising effort.

Ann's wide collection of vintage quilts includes a WWI "Red Cross" quilt. It was made in the early 1900's as a fund raising project. During the war, quilters were asked to "make quilts and save blankets for the boys at the front." In those days, it cost ten cents to add a signature to a quilt, and that money went to the Red Cross. Later, the quilts were raffled off and the money benefited their causes. These quilts were visually striking because they were made of solid red and white fabrics, providing a high contrast.

An idea blossomed. Ann received hundreds of blocks: from individuals, from quilt guilds, and from small sewing circles. The rules stated that each quilt block had to contain a red cross, whether it was embroidered, pieced, or appliquéd. Soon, blocks began arriving. With the blocks, many quilt makers included messages of thanks to the Red Cross' amazing work.

As the blocks arrived, volunteers and "Patches girls," those who work or attend meetings at Patches Quilt Shop, sorted the blocks. Some were sewn into afghan-sized quilts. Others were made into bed size quilts. Ann provided backing, sashing fabric and batting. Machine and hand quilters finished the projects.

Some of the quilts were taken to charity events and signed by people who made a donation. Those who signed got a chance to win a quilt.

So far, volunteers have completed sixteen quilts. They have found various homes. One of the quilts was awarded to the Volunteer of the Year at the St. Charles branch of the American Red Cross. Half of the proceeds have been sent to the New York Red Cross and half has stayed in St. Charles. Though the extreme crises in New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania were in everyone's consciousness, our local Red Cross branches still need funds, blood donations, and volunteer efforts. These quilts have had a wide impact.

Although we can't go back to the peace of life before September 11, quiltmakers, following Ann Hazelwood's creative vision, have made a difference. They've helped, in a very dramatic way, to heal our nation's wounds.

©2003 Hallye Bone

Photo 1: "Patches, etc. Quilt Shop" quilting bee, working on one of the Red Cross quilts.

Photo 2: Red Cross Quilt Project: Ann Hazelwood, right, owner of Patches, Etc., in St. Charles, MO., taking inventory of blocks sent from all over the U. S. in memory of victims of the 9-11 tragedy. They were made into fourteen quilts that were raffled. Aiding Ann are volunteers.

Photo 3: Red Cross Quilt Project Group: Jane Ponath, Arlene Gould, Sue Griffith, and Jennie Swarthout, binding several of the Red Cross quilts that were turned in from quilters in all parts of the U. S., following the 9-11 tragedy.

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