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Buried in quilts

When Talent Maker Space put out a call for quilts to go with the beds they were making for those who lost everything in fires, Sew Creative of Ashland became the gatekeeper for busy quilters in the valley, funneling some 80 handmade quilts needed through the end of the year.

Quilting, with its vibe of home and healing, became a thing. Local needle-smiths made 500 quilts that went to every child in Phoenix-Talent schools. Survivors of the devastating Santiam fires, east of Salem, put out a call for quilts and were inundated, so they drove scores of them here, says Sew Creative owner Karen Bates.

But quilts kept on coming. Word got out on the vast internet web of quilters and, what no one expected, the flow of generosity became a torrent, with Bates receiving up to 2,000 quilts so far.

“We started getting them from all over the country,” says Bates. “I was overwhelmed in my store. We started putting them in the vestibule and giving them to just about anyone who needed a quilt. Quilts were coming from as far away as New York ... people paying $80 for shipping — and they were beautiful, some hand-stitched. On the retail market, some would go for up to $600 or $700.”

Bates drove eight big bags of quilts to Northwest Seasonal Workers in Medford, where they may be picked up by those who need them, fire victims or not.

The group of quilters who lost everything in the Paradise, California, fire two years ago brought in quilts they made, because, says Bates, “They know what it’s like. They know how important it is to be comfortable. It’s a way to help healing. They lost a lot of quilts made by grandma long ago and are trying to replace them. Quilting is a good break from reality.”

Some fabric manufacturers are donating fabric to customers who are donating quilts. Bates has challenged customers to make quilts for donation, and they receive 6 yards of fabric. The quilts are gorgeous, she adds.

With basic quilt needs handled, they’re finding a demand for bigger ones — queen and king-size quilts, so that’s what they’re calling for now.

Many of the girls putting beds together at Talent Maker City lost homes and are finding that delivering the bed-quilt sets “gives them a feeling of taking control of their lives and playing a role in recovery and rebuilding,” says Ryan Wilcoxson, executive director of TMC. “They are thrilled to have something to do.”

Their website has request forms for bed-quilt sets, which can be requested by anyone, with delivery in about a week, says Wilcoxson. “Recipients are floored that kids took time to build these. They’re stunned.”

John Darling is an Ashland freelance writer. Reach him at jdarling@jeffnet.org.

Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneShannon Queen and Annette Julien pick out quilts at Sew Creative in Ashland Saturday.