Thursday, March 29, 2012

Texas Donations Delivered & Distributed

The Texas Fire Relief Effort is now in the history books. I believe it can be classified as a big success. DH and I left Colorado on Feb. 21 with plans to meet up with Glenda S.and her husband, along with Connie K. and Claudina C. in Ballinger, TX on the morning of the 22nd.

We were able to fit everything that Glenda brought from her Texas donors into the back of the trailer we were pulling. It was a close fit but it worked, lol. Unfortunately Glenda and her DH had to return to San Angelo right away so we had very little time to visit.

The rest of us continued on into Bastrop and arrived safely that afternoon. I called Lyn G. and Debbie H. to let them know we arrived safely and plans were made to get together the next morning for a tour of downtown Bastrop. We had a chance to meet the local quilt shop owners and the merchants who supported our effort by handing out our flyers. After a wonderful lunch we parted ways so that Lyn and I could meet with the local newspaper editor.

The next morning Lyn picked me up and we were able to go to the Methodist Church to meet with Michele P., and check out the Fellowship Hall where the giveaway would be held on Saturday. I was delighted to see the room was large and had all the amenities we could have ever hoped for.

Thursday evening Debbie held a small reception for those of us from Colorado. It was an opportunity to meet many of the ladies from Lone Pine Quilters who had helped Lyn with the Christmas Stocking & Stash giveaway last winter. Debbie's home was lost in the fires and we were thrilled to be invited to tour her new home, which she had only been living in for less than 10 days. Here you see Claudina, Lyn, myself and Bobbie, an LPQ member whose family lost 3 homes to the fire, talking in Debbie's new kitchen dining area.

On Saturday morning we were met at the church by over a dozen volunteers. Many of them were Stitchmap members. They had come from Austin, Elgin, Houston, Bastrop, and Kileen. Everyone was eager to help and had brought their most cheerful attitudes. They had that trailer unloaded in record time so that they could spend more time getting things organized before the doors would open at noon. Here you can see the room from two different angles and how the ladies had their work cut out for them when it came to getting the donations out of the boxes and onto the tables. It is hard to believe that I had all this stuff in my house for the past 6 months. No wonder my daughter thought I had become a hoarder!

Here you can see Debbie, Bobbie and Lyn starting on the quilting books and fabrics. We had over 400 pounds of fabric donated and Lyn managed to get every piece out onto a table or bags that she had covered the floor with to lay them on. It was a real task.

In this picture you can see Renee G. (the beautiful redhead in the center)talking with someone about what to do next. I have to commend Renee for the great job she did getting the 2000 pattern books and magazines organized by subject matter and technique. She kept working those boxes of books over all day. She helped so many people find what they were looking for.

Once the doors were opened at noon, Claudina and Connie were there to welcome our guests. They had each person sign in and gave each person 5 door prize drawing tickets. They also gave each person a drawstring bag full of basic sewing supplies. I must say that they were our "first impression" and they did a great job making everyone feel welcome and important.

Here are some of the guests making their selections. Each person was greeted by a volunteer who explained to them that they were welcome to whatever they needed and they explained to them how to use their door prize drawing tickets.

At 3 o'clock we held our drawing for the gift baskets and totes and the 5 sewing machines. This picture is cut off a bit on one side, missing some baskets but it is a good representation of the door prizes offered.

We had a gift basket for almost every technique - cross stitch, CQ, traditional quilting, knitting, crochet, beading, needlepoint, embroidery, and we even had one for a Christmas Stitcher There was a lap loom, a scroll frame and an Anchor floss cabinet donated also. We had 2 used sewing machines, 2 more used machines but they were in cabinets (one even had a stool), and 1 brand new sewing machine to give away. Here are some of our door prize drawing winners and a little bit about a few of them.

The winner of our Cross Stitcher's tote was a very sweet gal.

This young lady and her husband were volunteer firefighters who spent the first 2 days of the September fires helping others to save their homes. They came home the second day to find their own home burned to the ground. I was touched at how lovingly she stroked the cabinet of this sewing machine while she told me she would use it to make new curtains for their new home. She also was serving as a volunteer for collection of clothing for fire victims.

This lady is a very happy quilter now that she has a sewing machine again.

This woman loves Christmas and making gifts of her needlework for others. She was delighted to win our Christmas Stitcher's Basket.

A happy knitter with her prize.

Dad and the boys came to pick up stitching supplies for mom who was having chemo therapy treatments that afternoon. How delighted they were when they won the tote bag of quilting supplies with the iron for her also. Dad stayed after to help take the leftover items to the Ladies of Charity because my husband had sold the trailer that afternoon and we had no way to get the stuff to the thrift store without help.

Each person who came left with a generous amount of stash to help them get back to their favorite form of stitching.

We had given away about 90% of what had been donated. The remaining 10% was donated to the Ladies of Charity Thrift Shop in Bastrop per the recommendation of Lyn and Michele. Even though they closed on Saturdays at noon They had agreed to send a volunteer back to the shop to receive our donation that evening because they understood that we had no place to store it even overnight and that we would be leaving town the next morning. They also assured us that any money made from the sale of the items would go to help the fire victims who needed assistance with utility or rent deposits.

If you are reading this and were one of the many generous persons from all over the world who donated to this effort......THANK YOU FROM THE BOTTOM OF MY HEART. It was AWESOME! Thank you for trusting me to get the job done and I hope you approve of the results.

Hugs, Shari

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Fire Relief Giveaway

A Stitch In Time

Friday, February 24, 2012 Eric Betts

A group of women who use the Internet to share their passion for needlework with one another have come together to make sure that like-minded hobbyists in the Bastrop area have access to supplies after the Labor Day wildfires.
The members of Stitchmap, an online group, have collected materials to be distributed today to fire victims, says co-owner Shari Jensen. The materials, and members, come from nearly every state and several foreign countries, all of whom found the group at its Yahoo home and identified with its motto, “Keeping Needlearts Alive by Sharing Stitches.”
“Women all over the world share a needle and thread,” Jensen said. Stitchmap helps them share ideas and experience. Lessons are sent to members who sign up, with photos and instructions to follow. They’re encouraged to take pictures and share them with their mentors, who can help them with troublesome spots or make sure the final product was completed correctly.
The group encompasses nearly 30 kinds of needlework, including embroidery, cross-stitching and both crazy and traditional quilting.
“Anything done with a needle that has an eye,” said Jensen.
They also had some firsthand experience with the devastation of the fires. Co-owner Lyn Gaskill lives in Bastrop, and the group has seven members throughout the county, some of whom lost their homes and their stash of needlework supplies in the fire. Originally, Stitchmap had planned to help just its members, but as the donations continued pouring in they realized they could do something more significant and help a lot more people.
After months of collecting materials, Jensen and her husband drove down from their home in Colorado with a truck and trailer full of donated materials – yarns, threads and needles, thousands of magazines and pattern books and what she estimates to be 500 to 600 pounds of fabric. Jensen says they’ve got something for everyone, an array of tools and materials that test the boundaries of the all-inclusive “fibercraft” term.
The highlight of the giveaways are the five sewing machines that will be allocated via a drawing, including both new and used models and one vintage one with its cabinet. Jensen said to enter the drawing, a person would have to provide a FEMA number proving they were affected by the fire. Other materials will be available to anyone who lost supplies in the fire, charitable groups making items to be donated and anyone who would like to learn about needlearts.
The giveaway will be held today at First United Methodist Church in Bastrop, 1201 Main Street, in the Fellowship Hall from noon to 4 p.m. The first 100 people through the door will receive a free small sewing kit. The drawings for the sewing machines will take place at 3 p.m., and winners must be present to receive their prize.
Volunteers will also be available to help teach needlework to anyone who wishes to learn. The group is asking for help unloading the trailer at 8:45 a.m. Saturday morning; anyone who volunteers will have first run at the materials.

That is the article that appeared in Bastrop's newspaper regarding the giveaway.

Shari would like to thank these people:

Lyn G.
Connie K.
Glenda S.
Michele P.
Renee G.
Debbie H.
Patricia H.
Josie T.
Dorothy M.
Claudina H.
Rocky Mountain Crazy Quilt Group
And all the ladies of the Lost Pines Quilt Group, In Stitches Group and the Ladies of Charity from Bastrop for all their help and encouragement.

The trailer was absolutely full as you can see from the photo above. We gave away 5 sewing machines and roughly 8 gift baskets. Everone was thrilled. There was a line waiting at the door to get in that morning. Over 14 volunteers were on the floor at all times to help people with their choices. Michele P. made a wonderful taco soup for the volunteers lunch. Renee G. helped finish organizing the books and magazines with great detail. Connie K. and Claudina H. manned the welcome table. They made sure everyone recieved a Basic Sewing Kit and their drawing tickets. We served over 75 families. The little bit that was remaining was donated to the Ladies of Charity of St. Vincent De Paul Society. They were chosen because the sale of the remaining stash supplies monies will go to the fire victims to help pay utilities and rent deposits.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Basic Sewing Kits Galore

What a busy day last Sunday was. Members of the Rocky Mountain Crazy Quilters showed up in force at the Holly Quilt Shop in Centennial, Colorado for what can best be described as a Sew-A-Thon. The purpose was to help make at least 100 drawstring bags for holding Basic Sewing Kit supplies that had been donated to the Texas Fire Relief Effort. We also needed to make additional needlebooks and prepare some of the items we planned on putting into the BSK's by dividing them into small containers that could easily be slipped into the bags when they are filled.

Connie K. (MAP moderator and mentor) and I spent the past few weeks sorting the donations and pulling out all the needles, pincushions, needle books, measuring tapes, marking tools, buttons, spools of thread, floss, seam rippers, scissors and other cutting tools, etc. Anything that could be used in a BSK. We had separated all the fabrics into cotton and fancy types, then sorted them by color. While we were at it we pulled out many pieces that were sized right for making the BSK drawstring bags. We cut velcro into strips, we gathered charms and packages of lace strips and many other items that could be put into the bags. We set it all aside to take to Centennial when the time came.

There were a dozen ladies and 2 gentlemen who showed up to help make the bags and fill them with the BSK supplies. Some brought sewing machines, one gal brought her serger. The guys brought their patience and ability to count endless numbers of buttons, charms and spools of thread. It was amazing that as much as we thought we had it all ready to go we soon found that there was much more to do.

Here Richard, facing the camera, and Louie, are counting buttons into film canisters.

Pins that were all mixed together had to be sorted into types: plain straight pins, those with beaded tops, and safety pins. Then equal numbers of each were put into over 100 pincushions by MAP member Sandy B. and her young friend Cheyenne. That's Liz standing at the end of the table. She was cutting felt for the needlebooks.

The safety pins were sorted again by the fellas, according to size, before being sealed into small plastic baggies.

This picture shows the table area where volunteers (Diana and Claudina) were setting up their sewing machines early on. The table was as busy as a beehive about 10 minutes later when everyone else arrived.

We had ladies ironing the fabric, others were cutting/trimming the fabric to size for bags and/or additional needlebooks, one was cutting cords for the drawstring, another cutting felt for the middle of the needlebooks, another sewing the felt into the books, another serging the edges of the needle books, one or two were turning the bags and a some were putting the cords through the casings. Henry Ford would have been proud of our assembly line.

Almost every lady who attended also brought a box or two of additional donations. Customers of the quilt shop stopped in every once in a while to find out if we were holding a class. We would explain our mission and cause...many offered to bring even more donations to the store and drop them off. A volunteer stepped forward, said she would pick them up on a certain date and bring them to me.

I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the effort that the ladies of RMCQ put into this project. It was so wonderful to see how much they really wanted to help and how hard they were willing to work to get the job done. At the end of the day we were still shy of our goal of 100 bags and there were still a bazillion needles to be sorted into sizes and then put into the needlebooks. Volunteers stepped forward to take the tasks on. Those ladies took the materials home and will deliver them to me at some point in time after the Thursday night stitching session that they have planned for tonorrow.

When it came time to clean up the room and pack the car with all that we had brought with us and the additional donations we had received, they did not shirk. Everyone carried boxes out to the car, helped my dear husband load it in (He had to drop 2 more seats in the Suburban to accommodate it all). Then they found the energy to come back to straighten up the room. I don't know how they managed the energy to go shopping in the store but they did! This day I was proud to be associated with such inspirational and giving women...and,of course, the two wonderful fellas.