The Prairie Hearts Quilter’s Guild is involved in numerous outreach projects, and the guild’s current focus is on creating hand-made placemats for those who would otherwise be spending the Christmas holidays alone or in the hospital.
The guild’s placemat program has been ongoing for around a decade now.
“One of (the projects) that we do… is we make placemats. They go to people who are stuck in the hospital for Christmas Day, (and) they go to Meals on Wheels for Christmas… and they go to local old-age homes,” explained president Ann Richey.
“We delivered 404 (placemats) last year. That was the biggest number we’ve (donated so far). We might come close (to that number) again this year,” said Linda Owens, the guild’s committee coordinator.
This year’s count is hovering around 300 placemats, with more to come in the month leading up to Christmas. The last mats will be donated in the week or two before Christmas Day.
Once completed, the placemats are delivered to each senior’s care home in Moose Jaw including Pioneer Lodge, Extendicare, Chateau St. Michael, Providence Place, and Capilano Court.
After this, remaining placemats are distributed across the health region including Gravelbourg, Rockglen, Assiniboia, and Central Butte.
At the Dr. F. H. Wigmore Hospital, enough placemats are donated so every patient can spend Christmas Day with a reminder they’re not alone during the holiday season. These placemats are distributed by the hospital’s dietary staff, and patients can keep their placemat when they return home.
The placemats are complemented by the guild’s donation of pillowcases to the hospital.
“We send pillowcases to the children’s ward,” Richey added. “When the kids go in, they get to pick out whatever pillowcase they want out of the selection, and that’s theirs. They take it home with them (after their stay at the hospital).”
The guild also makes quilts for patients in the hospital’s dialysis unit, as well as patients undergoing chemotherapy.
To provide a space for the guild’s regular meetings, Vanier Collegiate has donated its art room for the guild to use in the school’s off-hours. This is where the recent Nov. 18 meeting took place.
“Look at this — the lights, the space, you couldn’t ask for a better place. (It has) plug-ins, counters, ironing spots… (The staff at Vanier are) awesome,” said Richey. “Every couple of months, (Vanier’s principal) calls and asks, ‘is there anything you ladies need down there?’”
The idea for the placemats started when a member was hospitalized over the holidays and discovered first-hand the distinct lack of a Christmas feel.
“She was in the hospital on Christmas Day, and said, ‘we never got one thing – we didn’t even get a Christmas napkin!’” said Richey. “That’s how it started.”
Today that empty sense for many has been alleviated, thanks to the guild.
“I think the residents and the patients really enjoy them, just like the kids have a blast with their pillowcases,” Richey said. “I think it’s just the fact that they’re remembered.
“They just have something that’s a little more personal… as opposed to a while or a green hospital pillowcase,” she added. Richey said many senior residents also start asking about the placemats around the end of November each year, which stands as a testament to their popularity.
Some of the members even see a few of their creations around town from time to time.
“I had two little guys at the door trick-or-treating with one of the pillowcases I had made... and his brother had one too. He said, ‘my brother got that when he was at the hospital, and they let me have one too,’” Richey said.
The guild meets on the first and third Thursday of each month. During these meetings, whoever is available from the guild’s 94 current members will attend to work on their ongoing projects, learn a few new techniques, and everybody gets the chance to socialize.
“Of course, we eat, and we talk. We chat and get to know each other. It’s kind of like party time,” Richey said with a laugh.
What separates a guild from any other organization is the way a guild is organized.
“The whole thing with a guild… is to share and teach your craft to new generations for the good of the community,” explained Richey. “We’re very community-minded that way.
“And you always learn something, because someone will always teach you a trick or something new,” she added.
Becoming a member of the guild is easy, and everyone interested in the craft is welcome to join. Richey said members currently range from 15 to 93 years of age, “And every age in between.”
As one example of the guild’s strong sense of camaraderie, a past member now living in Foam Lake, Sask. still receives placemats from the guild. “She’s one of our people, so we sent some up to her place as well,” Richey said.
“It’s an incredible group of women,” Richey said. “They’re really amazing. They are great mentors, great examples, they’re very giving, and they’re all fun – there’s no grouchy ones (either)!”
The guild can be contacted by sending an email to PrairieHeartsQuilters@yahoo.ca.
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