Pop into a meeting of the La Crosse Area Quilt Guild and you'll see beautiful, intricate quilts and hear plenty of talk about tools and techniques. You'll also hear talk about community needs. That's because the guild is more than a sewing club. The members aren't just quilting for themselves — they're also quilting for a cause. Many causes, actually. "We'll make a quilt and donate it to any group that would like to raise money for a good cause," guild member Marcia Griffin tells us, adding that members also donate small "comfort quilts" and pillowcases to area nonprofits. "We love our community and love to give back," says Marcia (who happens to be a switchboard operator at Mayo Clinic Health System — Franciscan Healthcare in La Crosse, Wisconsin).
Among those to benefit from the guild's generosity are patients receiving dialysis at Mayo Clinic Health System in nearby Onalaska, Wisconsin. "They called and asked us if we could make these, and we said 'Of course we will. How many do you need?'" Marcia says. The answer — more than 100 — didn't faze the 80 or so members of the group, who range in age from "around 40 into their 90s," according to Marcia.
They answered the request with close to 150 pillowcases, designed to protect the pillows that help make patients more comfortable during their dialysis treatments, which can last several hours. Marcia tells us each pillowcase takes more than a yard of fabric (donated by the quilters themselves) and an average of two hours to sew.
The pillowcases were well-received by the patients as well as the dialysis staff members, who sent the guild a thank-you card. "Thank you for all your hard work," wrote one staff member. "The cases are beautiful. The patients love them."
While the thank-yous are appreciated, Marcia tells us that she and the other quilters aren't in it for the kudos. "People love quilts, and it's fun to make them for people who really need them," she says. Marcia sews small hearts into every project she makes, and it's clear she believes that the quilts provide more than just warmth. "We donate comfort quilts to the women's shelter, and some of these people have nothing of their own." Being able to change that, it seems, is a gift in itself. "I've been doing charity work for a long time, and I can't really explain why I do it or how it feels," Marcia tells us. "But can you imagine what the world would be like if everyone volunteered?" (Indeed we can.)
If you're in the La Crosse area and would like to join Marcia, she tells us the guild is always looking for new members — including beginners. The group meets the fourth Tuesday of every month at 7 p.m. at the Days Inn in La Crosse. For those not in the area, you can follow the fun on the group's Facebook page. Then volunteer your comments below before you use the social media tools to share this story with others.