Inside Nancy Briggs’ sewing room in Endicott, you’ll find stacks upon stacks of neatly arranged fabric pieces, endless supplies and a mantle string made entirely of spools of thread. Accessorizing the adorned crafters nook further are signs that read, “May your bobbin always be full,” and, “A life without quilting? I don’t think so!”
Briggs’ home is a gathering place for the Caring Quilters Project, a group of about 20 crafters from Broome and Tioga counties, and who meet ten times a year to show off their work to each other and then prepare it to be donated to local organizations. In addition, quilts are also made by approximately seven individuals from Temple Israel in Vestal.
The group celebrated a remarkable milestone at their Sept. 4 meeting, where it was announced that they surpassed 10,000 homemade quilts and crocheted blankets.
Since 2004, the community project has distributed 10,070 lovingly made gems to more than 60 organizations in Broome and Tioga Counties that have benefited from their lap-sized quilts, crocheted blankets and other one-of-a-kind creations.
When the Owego Pennysaver met up with the group in 2014 at their tenth year of giving, the number was 6,700. This year marks the start of the 15th year for the Caring Quilters Project.
Originated by Susan Hampp, Marilyn Truex, Bev Allen and Peggy Bissonette, Hampp explained that the inspiration came from one simple request.
“It just kind of happened, I was asked if I could make a quilt,” Hampp said. The effort took off from there, and now today, she remarked, “This very special group is truly amazing, and the volunteers are so generous with their time and creativity.”
The group shared that a homemade quilt or blanket provides a sense of comfort to individuals experiencing illness, tragedy or life struggles.
Quilts, walker bags, knitted caps, breast care pillows, and colorful teddy bears known as “Caring Cuddlers,” along with countless other items have been donated. A Caring Cuddler, Hampp said, is often given to a child who is being transported by ambulance to a hospital.
From reaching out to families following the American Civic Association tragedy and Hurricane Katrina, and also Tioga County residents affected by floods in both 2006 and 2011, and then donating to nursing homes, senior citizen groups, cancer programs and neonatal intensive care units, as well as veterans, crime victims assistance and shelters to private individuals and more, the Caring Quilters Project has gone above and beyond with their mission of “Covering our community with love.”
There are no real rules or set patterns for the quilts, and it is all left to the imagination and inspiration of the crafter. Hampp explained that one of her favorite creations is called a scrappy quilt or crazy quilt, which is a combination of smaller pieces of colorful material, and oftentimes used in making children’s quilts.
The satisfaction of giving away their handcrafted comfort items to the community, however, is their greatest reward, and the group hopes that the recipients’ spirits are lifted and that they are left feeling cared about.
Monetary and material donations for the Caring Quilters Project are gladly accepted, and new volunteers are always welcome. Call Susan Hampp, (607) 785-4690 or Marilyn Truex, (607) 748-3133 for information or to arrange a donation.