Giving Back

Beth Bradley
Every September, the members of the Red River Quilters Guild of Shreveport, LA collect enough 6" squares to keep them busy for countless hours throughout the next year. The Guild is over 20 years old, with a membership of 300 quilters dedicated to helping their community. Since 2002, they've partnered with the Red River Revel, a local arts festival, to sponsor QuiltQuest. It's a remarkable event that not only introduces children to sewing and quilting, but also inspires them to give back through the creation of very special Art Quilts.

During QuiltQuest, 7,500 4th graders from nearby Caddo and Bossier Parishes pour into the Convention Hall over the course of five days. Each student receives a square of plain muslin, fabric markers and instructions to draw a picture on the square that would bring cheer to a sick child. High school students press the decorated blocks to set the designs and then hand them off to the Quilters, who work tirelessly to piece them together into colorful quilt tops. These quilts eventually become one-of-a-kind gifts to be donated to seriously ill or abused children in area hospitals and care facilities.

In addition to creating the blocks, the children become acquainted with the quilting process. They experiment with quilt layouts on the design board, observe the Quilters sewing, and also learn about the different elements of a quilt. This year, several sewing-machine dealers contributed user-friendly machines for the kids to try out, enabling the Guild to add a Children's Sewing Day to the event during which students work on the quilts that feature their blocks.

QuiltQuest has become a favorite tradition for students and teachers and is also a great example of collaboration for a cause. Individuals, organizations and manufacturers generously provide supplies and hundreds of yards of fabric. Volunteers donate their time washing, pressing, cutting, sewing and assisting the children. The students enjoy the opportunity to express their creativity, and most importantly, they gain an understanding of the value of helping others.

Each year, the Red River Quilters create the special quilts using 1,200 yards of bright juvenile fabrics, 600 yards of batting and 200 yards of muslin-not to mention countless miles of thread!

HOW CAN YOU HELP?

If you'd like to learn more about QuiltQuest or contribute to the Red River Quilters' effort, visit redriverquilters.com. Donations for QuiltQuest are welcome year-round. The Guild accepts supplies, such as bright, novelty or solid cotton fabric, batting (crib size or larger), bleached muslin, rotary cutters, blades, mats, rulers, thread and/or monetary contributions. E-mail Cindy Williams (quillt4cw@suddenlink.net) or Jeannine James (jjquilts@bellsouth.net), or send donations to: Red River Quilters, PO Box 4811, Shreveport, LA 71134-0811.

Appeared in:

Jan/Feb 2008 Issue

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