By Diane Toomey
Photos by Karen Kim
Shortly after Betty Young retired, she was channel surfing and came across a local ad seeking volunteers to make quilts for the Red Cross. Betty was interested in doing something to give back. In March of 1996 she joined eleven other women who met every Monday to sew quilts that the South Puget Sound Chapter of the American Red Cross would distribute to those in need of comfort and warmth.
Picture a small room with old sewing machines, piles of colorful donated tablecloths, and a group of women creating quilts. At first, they began making the quilts from stiff donated tablecloths. After struggling with the difficult fabric, they switched to softer bed sheets found at garage sales. These dedicated women were creating over 200 warm havens a year that could be handed out as comfort and warmth to those suffering from a disaster.
Shortly after she started making quilts, Betty had the opportunity to meet someone who told her how meaningful it was to receive a hand-made quilt after a disaster.
“It is rewarding to help someone who has nothing but a quilt to put around their shoulders,” said Betty.
When Betty joined the group there were 12 quilters. Over the years their numbers have dwindled to three. Making these quilts has, “provided me with the pleasure of knowing they are going to help someone,” explained Betty. She also noted that she really, “enjoys the sharing and friendships that have developed over the years.”
In the summer, quilts pile up awaiting distribution when the weather grows cooler. In December, volunteer Ann Cook responded to a fire in Grays Harbor and handed out one of these quilts. The adult son in a multi-generational family told her, “Well this almost makes it worth all this. I am going to give this to my father. My mother made quilts and we lost them in this fire; this is so beautiful.”