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MLK Day quiltathon warms hearts

By James Kinneen
Hometown Weekly Reporter

This Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the Unitarian Universalist Area Church in Sherborn held a five hour “quiltathon,” during which attendees created quilts to be donated to cancer patients. The quiltathon was one of what will be several quilt=making sessions this year; the church aims to create around sixty quilts per year for donation. The church has held the quiltathons for around twenty years, with the majority of quilts being made after the summer, while many church members have had time off to work on their creations at home.

The quilt makers show off a finished product, to be donated to a person undergoing chemotherapy.  Photos by James Kinneen

The quilt makers show off a finished product, to be donated to a person undergoing chemotherapy. Photos by James Kinneen

“Basically, it’s called the Power of the Quilt Project,” explained Diane McNamara. “Church members and friends of church members [and] people who are interested in quilting all get together three times a year, and maybe once in the summer to do prep stuff. We work on quilts and make quilts kind of in different stages, so some people piece them, others sandwich them and put them together. Chris is stitching the three layers together, machine quilting, and then other people are hand binding. When you’re finished, we put labels on them, letting the recipient know where they’re from, and then we donate them to cancer centers for people who are undergoing chemotherapy.”

The reason people undergoing chemotherapy need extra blankets (the blankets tend to be 42 by 54 inches, though they are not uniform) is because the people that have undergone the treatment note how cold the process makes them.

“It can be really chilly when you’re getting chemotherapy,” McNamara continued. “They pump that cold liquid into you, so these are comfort quilts for people undergoing chemo. We have people in the church that are currently in treatment. They take them into the hospital for us, and then we give them out to people. They’re very much appreciated. We get lovely thank-you notes from the recipients, so we know from those notes of appreciation that people really do appreciate them. Sometimes, they send donations to the church because they’re so happy to have received them, so we know they don’t go to waste.”

But the church doesn’t just know that their quilts are appreciated because of thank-you notes and monetary donations. Unfortunately, some of their members, like Sally Demler, have had to undergo chemotherapy and know both how functional the quilts are, and how good it feels to know people are supporting you.

“They serve a practical purpose” she explained, “but I think the best part of them, as a recipient of one when I needed it, is that it feels like a warm hug from people who understand what’s happening to you at that moment. It’s a good feeling.”

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