What do you get if you put these things together?
• 1 gymnasium
• 160 1 x 2” boards, minimum 6-foot lengths
• 160 C clamps
• 40 stretched quilts
• Approximately 600 sewing needles
• Massive amounts of yarn
• About 500 youth , leaders, and quilters
• 90 minutes
The answer? The most cherished gifts 40 women have ever received.
On Saturday, February 21, over 400 youth from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints converged on a north Tucson church building to perform a great feat. In this short 90-minute period, guided by experienced quilters and aided by some of their leaders, they tied 40 quilts.The youth wanted to include an act of service to kick off their day of activities.These were youth ages 16 to 18, who attended from Tucson, Sahaurita, Sierra Vista, Vail and Nogales. They were gathered for their annual conference, and wanted to include an act of service to kick off their day of activities.
A youth committee was involved in planning the activity, as well as adult Church leaders and members of the Tucson Quilters Guild, represented that morning by Barbara Clark.
Clark noted that much of the fabric for the event was donated by another guild member, Phyllis Sirrine of Sahaurita. A call went out for people to sew the quilt tops, and volunteers from Tucson, Sahaurita and Sierra Vista came forward to prepare the materials for the project. Others came to set up and guide the work that morning, as many of the youth had not quilted before.
The finished quilts were donated to The Haven, a Tucson organization that serves women who are struggling with substance abuse.“I was overwhelmed to see this many youth coming together, all serving a common purpose in God’s name.” (Joyce Morgan, The Haven)Joyce Morgan, Clinical Director of The Haven, said that the women usually come with nothing but the few belongings they can carry. Addressing the youth after the quilting, Morgan said, “I was overwhelmed to see this many youth coming together, all serving a common purpose in God’s name.” Describing the impact the quilts would have, she said, “All of you slept somewhere last night in a bed with a blanket….[The women who come to us] don’t have that. So what you’ve done today…is to allow women to leave us and have something warm that they can cherish. Thank you from the women and from our organization for spending your time helping us. God bless you….”
The gymnasium was a beehive of activity, as youth gathered around each quilt frame. The youth used various methods to pull the needles and yarn through layers of fabric, including some who chose to lie on the floor under the quits, waiting for needles to come down from above so they could push them back through.
Some offered remarks as they worked. Some of the young women commented that it felt good to be doing something helpful and productive. “It makes me feel warm and fuzzy,” one girl said.
A young man said that though this was not an activity he would probably pursue on his own, knowing that it was helping someone was cool. Another seemed very comfortable at the frame. Many of the women in his family are quilters and had taught him to sew.
Some saw the magnitude of the project right away. One said that when he came in he thought the scope was “ambitious.” But he was there when applause rang out as one by one the quilts were finished. “[These activities] always make a difference.” (Youth Leader)
One leader noted that he had attended six or seven of these conferences over the years, and that they are always good. “They make a difference,” he said.
According to Morgan, these quilts will indeed do that.