Five years ago, best friends Julie Jackson and Mary Coleman caught the same bug. "We both suddenly got the urge to try quilting," Julie, an administrative assistant at Mayo Clinic's Rochester campus, tells us. Initially, they honed their craft by making lots (and lots) of quilted pillowcases. When someone asked what they planned to do with so many cases, it didn't take Julie and Mary (a longtime Mayo employee herself, before retirement) long to decide that they'd give them away. "Our parents were giving people," Julie tells us. "That's how we were raised, and we want to continue to make our parents proud of us, even though they have all passed on."
The first beneficiaries of the duo's handiwork were the residents at the Spring Valley Care Center, reports the Spring Valley Tribune. The "smiles, hugs and tears" they received from the recipients "made months of endless quilting worth every single stitch," Julie says. In the years since that first donation, Julie and Mary have gifted hundreds of additional pillowcases and "comfort quilts" to a list of recipients as diverse as the colorful fabrics they use in their creations. Local benefits and fundraisers, Toys for Tots, Good Earth Village Bible Camp, the Dorothy Day Hospitality House, and homeless people on the street have all received cozy quilted comfort, Julie tells us. She's even made a handful of quilts just for dogs. "Everyone deserves a hug," she says.
Recently, the friends added the Fillmore County Sheriff's Office to their list of grateful recipients. As KIMT News reports, Julie and Mary "cranked out 40 quilts, enough for each squad car to have one adult and one child-sized quilt." Julie and Mary hope the quilts will help comfort victims of crimes or those who have been in accidents. They'll serve an additional purpose as well, Deputy Samantha Keasling tells the station. Having the quilts on hand "really bridges the gap between us and the community" and "shows that we're not just there to respond to their tragedies or write their accident reports, that we can be there in a nurturing way too." The Mabel Fire Department and Ambulance Squad is the next group slated to receive a donation.
Julie and Mary have been asked if their giving is affiliated with a church or organization. The answer: "Nope, just us, just two best friends," Mary tells KIMT. And that means it's primarily the two of them funding the project as well. "Quilting isn't a cheap hobby," Julie admits. "But we don't go on vacations, so this is what we do instead." The two also have received donations of fabric, batting and gift cards to fabric stores, which "has helped us continue to make our comfort quilts and spread a little love." And that, after all, is the real reason for all that stitching. "The best part of making a quilt," Julie tells KIMT, "is giving it away."
If you're inspired to learn more about Julie and Mary's efforts, you can email Julie at firstname.lastname@example.org. Then comfort us with your comments below before you use the social media tools atop this page to share this story with others.