When I was a toddler, one of my favorite objects was a yellow blanket with satiny edging. Apparently, family lore has it, I took my “blankie” everywhere.I do remember how I rolled the edging into a cone and tickled my nose with it before I went to sleep at night.My blanket made me feel safe.Fifty years later, I still have my favorite blankets. Two are crocheted; one of those kept me warm as I recovered from surgery a year ago.There’s a reason we say we can “blanket” someone with love.It’s been just a little more than five years since Carol Schmidt and Jayne Ortiz founded Quilting for Kids. This group of local women crochet, knit or quilt blankets to donate to the Jeff Gordon Children’s Hospital at Carolinas Medical Center/NorthEast in Concord. During those years, the group has donated 837 quilts or crocheted blankets to the hospital for children from just one day old to age 18.The work is a labor of love for these women. For Schmidt, it is also downright relaxing.“It brings out what little creative talent I have developed,” she said, laughing.The women try to get together each time they have enough blankets or quilts to donate. They show off their creations, trade ideas and designs, and enjoy each other’s skills and inspirations. Then Schmidt and Ortiz sort the quilts by size, type a record of each and every quilt into an Excel file, and attach information to each before it goes to the hospital with the quilter’s ID.The hospital tracks the quilt.“They send us back information so the quilter knows who got the blanket,” Schmidt said. “That way, you know that your quilt went to a 7-year-old girl, or an 8-month-old boy, a premie or a teenager.”“They are ever so grateful at the hospital,” Schmidt said, “so appreciative.”During the years, Quilting for Kids has developed a warm and close relationship with hospital staff members. Recently Schmidt heard from a nurse in the hospital’s child life center. She was working on an activity for the children in the hospital.“They were thinking of having the children paint or decorate quilt pieces,” Schmidt said.The nurse’s idea was simple and beautiful: Could such pieces become parts of the quilts that the group sewed? That way, the children would themselves be part of the creative process of making blankets for other children.Nowadays, the folks at CMC/NorthEast also try to find ways, where it is possible, for group members to give some of their blankets personally to families. If parents agree, quilters can bring a blanket right to the child’s room.One time, the hospital gave a quilt to a Hispanic family. Ortiz speaks Spanish quite fluently (she teaches the language, after all).“She was able to explain to the mother what we were doing,” Schmidt remembers. “The looks on the faces of both the mother and child were something you never forget.”Quilting for Kids is always looking for more folks to help make blankets for the pediatric ward; whether they are knitted, crocheted or quilted doesn’t matter. The materials just have to be new (and no wool – some children have wool allergies).
Friday, Feb. 22, 2013
Help warm children at CMC/NorthEast
Carol Schmidt, left, and Jayne Ortiz of the five-year-old volunteer group Quilting for Kids prepare for a delivery of quilts to the Jeff Gordon Children's Hospital in Concord. BARBARA THIEDE