Each August, we receive about 400 Quilts that have each been patiently and lovingly made by complete strangers to those who will receive them. Mostly senior citizens meet nearly every Monday night throughout the year, at their fellowship hall, to humbly, quietly, and consistently contribute their sense of compassion and caring to the neediest of the needy in our community.
It’s a powerful reminder each year on this evening (my fourth year) to pause, be quiet, and feel the unconditional presence of a love for fellow human beings, that supersedes most things I see throughout the year by miles. There are no showboats, no individual quilter showcasing or waving their “best” quilt. As a group and as a person, this gathering is anonymous in its totality.
The quilts are given to children when they leave the shelter, on their way to their new home, usually a subsidized and transitional two-year apartment. A fresh start. There are few things better than seeing the children- their ages never really seem to matter- as they peruse our linen room stacked with quilts on the shelves.
Like bright colored presents under a Christmas tree, they carefully look through all of the quilts, until they “bond” with just the right one, the one seemingly made just for them. They invariably hold onto the quilt in the drive away from the shelter, keeping it close to them and separate from the bags and boxes of limited possessions and clothes they have been able to hang onto throughout their ordeals.
Quilts are Love. Quilts are New Beginnings. Quilts are Family. Quilts are Home.
The recipients will never know the diligence, sacrifice, and commitment made by the anonymous weekly quilters who have made the gifts possible. But it is a transcendent experience, because there’s no doubt that between the stitching and the patchwork, that a generous amount of Kindness and Love were added to each quilt.
A few words about our programs, and about how much the quilts mean to our residents, and the aging group gets up- a few with walkers or canes and aging backs ignored- to help us load the SUVs and cars we have brought, to take them back to the shelters.
The Hall empties out, the lights are dimmed and doors locked, and the parking lot clears quickly. It’s quiet on a hot August night. Quiet with dignity and humble humanity that has just washed over me with the presence of people who teach me the definition of genuine care.