Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Fearless Quilters Go to Seattle Children's Hospital

Fearless Quilters Inspired by Visit to Hospital - Guest Post by Patty Smith
About three years ago a group of women from Circle Too decided to learn how to quilt, creating special baby blankets for Laura Alonso and Kerry Messett, as they became first-time grandmothers. The project was so much fun that several ladies decided to create a regular quilting group, initially holding it at Esther’s Fabrics to encourage non-church affiliated women to join them.
We called ourselves “Fearless Quilters,” as motivation for first time sewers and quilters to sew for joy and creativity rather than fixate on quilting “rules” established for the purpose of judging. Our first group quilt was donated to the American Hero project, which distributes red, white and blue quilts to injured service men and women. 
Shortly thereafter we learned about Katie’s Comforters, a Seattle Children’s Hospital guild established by Karen Gerstenberger in honor of her daughter, Katie, who lost her struggle against cancer. The Gerstenberger family had been members of Rolling Bay Presbyterian Church at the time of this sad event, so it was a quick and easy decision to turn the Fearless Quilters’ attention to creating quilts for children with cancer.
Most recently, last month on August 24, a group of eight Fearless Quilters gathered up the 40 quilts and blankets we had completed and made a field trip to Seattle Children’s Hospital. This brought the total number of Fearless Quilts we have delivered to the hospital in the past few years to 79. In appreciation, Karen Gerstenberger arranged to have our group escorted on a VIP 90-minute tour of this incredible facility. We had three women guiding us as we first met the volunteer coordinator, then with nurse manager Ron in the state-of-art emergency department downstairs, followed by a presentation by child life staff member Callie, upstairs at the 48-bed cancer unit.   
Our group came away in awe of this fabulous hospital and newly inspired to dedicate even more time to sewing and quilting. We learned that 500-600 quilts/blankets are distributed monthly to children staying overnight. The average stay is 3-5 days, with 405,000 visits last year. It is the largest pediatric hospital on the West Coast and fifth in the nation in population served. The facility sits on 25 acres and has enough staff and visitors to support three Starbucks on the campus.
In addition to quilts, we learned from Callie that other new items are also appreciated and distributed to the children and their families: window stickers, helmets, games, fingernail polish, toiletries, gift cards, gas cards, Safeway cards, new bathing suits (including adult sizes — the hospital has a swimming pool and parents staying overnight with their children often don’t think to pack a suit). She helpfully suggested that people wanting to donate can check out Seattle Children’s Hospital wish list on Amazon.
Fearless Quilters meets monthly on the 4th Thursday in a dedicated room at the back of the church (lower Hoadley building, use the reiki room entrance). It is a drop-in type day, with someone usually there from 10 am - 3 pm. Bring a sack lunch if you like. There are pre-cut quilt kits available ($20 deposit, money returned when the completed quilt top is brought back) and friendly quilters happy to teach. There are non-sewing tasks including sorting donated fabrics, ironing or cutting pieces. Stopping in to visit and chat is also encouraged! For further information on Fearless Quilters, call the Rolling Bay Presbyterian Church office at 206-842-3098 or email: office@rbpres.org.
As a final note, one of our guides mentioned her 7-year-old granddaughter has made and donated four quilts to Katie’s Comforters. Fearless Quilters would like to encourage mother/daughter teams to stop by and consider learning to quilt together!

The Fearless Quilters of Rolling Bay Presbyterian Church on the rooftop garden at Seattle Children's Hospital. From left to right: Deanna Williams, Val McCarthy, Laura Alonso, Madeline Olson, Jackie Harrington, Joanna McCormack, Vicky Adkins, Patty Smith

Monday, August 29, 2016

Lucile & Fabric Traditions Prints

Lucile has been sewing up a storm at home. She has transitioned from quilts to pillowcases and receiving blankets, and boy, does she work fast! Gregg and I stopped by to pick up her latest batch of 86 pillow cases this weekend.

 She has included a lovely variety of prints, sure to please boys and girls of all ages.
Fabric Traditions of New York's colorful sports prints
In this batch are some of Fabric Traditions' professional sports team prints. While many of the teams represented are not from our area, they are fun and cheerful for sports fans, and we are grateful!

Thank you, Lucile, for your continued dedication to comforting patients at Seattle Children's Hospital, and thank you, Fabric Traditions, for your generous donations of fabric!

Friday, August 26, 2016

Cami & Liberty Bay Books

Living in a small town can be a wonderful thing, especially when you have a local, independent bookstore like Liberty Bay Books as a keystone on the main street.

Liberty Bay Books is owned by Suzanne, who offers many groups a place to gather in her cozy, welcoming store. A variety of book groups, free game nights, authors' events and the Liberty Bay Books Knitters are just a few of the community events hosted at LBB. The knitting group has been a long-time supporter of Katie's Comforters Guild, and they just contributed six blankets, two hats and a quilt. We don't often know who knit/crocheted which blanket, but in this case, one of them came with a label from Nancy Brennan, so we want to say "thank you" specifically to Nancy, and generally to the Liberty Bay Books Knitters. If you are ever in Poulsbo, stop in and check out the shop!
Nancy's soft and fuzzy knitted blanket
Suzanne's good friend Cami is one of our dear neighbors. Cami is a busy world traveler who still makes time to do things for others; she recently donated 32 fleece blankets in various themes (including University of Washington Huskies, Washington State University Cougars and Seattle Seahawks designs) which are sure to please sports-loving patients and their families! Thank you, Cami!
Thirty-two fleece blankets from Cami, ready to delight sick children!

We are grateful to our local community for its caring and support of Katie's Comforters Guild!

Monday, August 1, 2016

Facebook and Instagram Posts

Hop on over to our Facebook page to see the heirloom-quality quilts posted by guild member Amanda W. She takes incredible care over each one and the results are impressive! She also posts on her Instagram page as "meander." Her quilts are sure to delight each recipient and family. Thank you, Amanda!

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Lots of Good News!

We have a great deal of good news to share with you. So much generosity has come to Seattle Children's Hospital through donations to Katie's Comforters Guild!

First of all, Charlotte B. kindly created six quilts and delivered them to Seattle Children's Hospital for our guild. Thank you, Charlotte!
Michelle F. gathered quilts from a variety of sources and delivered them to the hospital with the help of her son, Owen. Michelle is a member of our guild, and both of her sons are junior members. She teaches others to quilt, and shares fabric to help them get started with charitable sewing and giving. We love this family's community involvement and commitment to giving back! Mickie donated quilts from her family, as well as from a young lady named Skyler, and friends Margie, Brenda and Kristin.
Skyler's stack
One of Margie's quilts
Margie's applique work - stunning!
Kristin wrote the following: " I live in Seattle near Children's and quilt weekly with a group of women. I saw a post a couple years ago from Mickie Geri Farris about Katie's Comforter Guild, and love the idea. The quilt this time was a world map and I thought that a kiddo might plan some world travels during their stay."

Thank you, Mickie, Owen, Luke, Margie, Kristin and Skyler! We are so grateful for your help and generosity!

Fabric Traditions has done it again, sending us a box of professional sports team fabric in cotton and flannel. If you would like to make a sports-themed quilt for patients at Seattle Children's Hospital, please let me know and I will find a way to get the fabric to you! Regardless of which teams you might favor, it's possible to make a truly wonderful quilt by combining the fabrics. The only thing they ask in return is that we send photos of what is made with their fabric - a fun request to fulfill! Thank you, Annette S. and Fabric Traditions!
I just received a donation from Angela and her daughter Olivia. They contributed three beautifully-knitted and two lovingly hand-knotted fleece blankets. These will bring comfort and cheer to patients!  Thank you, Angela and Olivia!
Finally, we took a trip to Lucile's house to pick up the latest batch of 56 pillowcases which she made for patients, so they will have a personal touch, rather than hospital linens! Thank you, Lucile - we appreciate you and all that you do!
Katie's Comforters Guild has so much for which to be grateful - and we are! All of our donors and members are treasured and appreciated.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Sunshine from Tanya S.

Our Vice President & Gratitude Ambassador, Mary Ryan, wrote the following:

"A friend of our guild, Tanya S., has been at it again and created this beautiful new knit blanket as a donation for a special someone at Seattle Children's. Tanya is very humble about her knitting talents and always graciously brushes off any compliments with a quiet smile and gentle laugh.
"The yarn she chose for this cuddly project is so soft to the touch and the color is a cheery sunshine yellow that is just as soft spoken as Tanya. I'm sure the child who receives it will feel the warm hugs of each and every stitch! Thank you so much, Tanya, for your thoughtful, comforting gift!"

...and thank you, Mary, for delivering this beautiful blanket to Katie's Comforters Guild!

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Pillowcases & Receiving Blankets Made with Love by Lucile

We stopped by to visit Lucile, after she called and told us that she had accumulated quite a supply of pillowcases and receiving blankets. She is truly "the Producer!"

Lucile had created, folded, counted and bagged for delivery  
132 pillowcases, 24 receiving blankets and two crocheted blankets. She says (with modesty), "I have to keep busy!" Here is a selection of her latest work:
Lucile, you are doing a wonderful job of keeping busy - and keeping Seattle Children's Hospital's patients supplied with soft, cheerful comfort items.
Thank you - we appreciate you and all you do!

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Yarn Donations

We are always grateful to receive inquiries from people interested in donating to Katie's Comforters Guild, whether it's time, talent, treasure or materials they have to share. Recently, we received two offers of yarn, which we truly appreciate.

In some cases, we can coordinate donations so that the materials go directly to our guild's friends or members who need them for making quilts or blankets. We've done this with fabric, and are about to do it again with a yarn donation from Mandy L.

Sometimes, there is too much material for us to take (storage space is an issue), or there isn't a specific need to coincide with the timing of a donor's need to move materials. In that case, we give our thanks, and ask that another charity be the recipient.

Mandy L. is sending her yarn directly to Liberty Bay Books' Knitters. Here is a photo of her son with the yarn she is donating,
and here is one of her son with his own beloved, knitted blanket. His sweet smile confirms that blankets really do bring comfort!
Thank you, Mandy! ...and thanks to all who offer donations to Katie's Comforters Guild!

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

A Package of Coziness from Elsie

Several years ago, our guild was blessed by a donor named Elsie W.
Several years went by without hearing from her, and then, a surprise message came for us through the Guild Association office: would I call her, please?
Yes, I would - and I learned that Elsie had moved from the west side of the state to the east side, and that she had not forgotten Katie's Comforters.

Elsie wanted to know if she could send me some blankets which she wanted to donate to Seattle Children's Hospital through our guild.
Yes, please!

Today, I opened a box and found these two soft, cozy knitted blankets inside:
The yarn is super fuzzy: thick, yet light, and feels a little bit like holding a favorite pet.

Elsie asked if we would like her to make more of these for our guild to donate.
Yes, please! - so she has already started to make more.

We are grateful to Elsie for remembering Katie's Comforters, after a huge life-change like a big move, and for her generous desire to donate comfort to others. Thank you, Elsie!

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Six New Quilts & FREE Supplies!

Last week, we received blessings for which we are thankful, and we are happy to share them with you.

April C. sent this photo of her most recent six quilts, made from fabric donated by Sherry B.:
Thank you, Sherry and April for your generous gifts of time, talent and materials!

Another blessing is an offer of FREE fabric and quilting supplies, which are presently at the Guild Association's office on Sand Point Way in Seattle. Our contact there, Melissa Cardenas, can help to coordinate a convenient time for you to pick up these free supplies, to use in making quilts for Katie's Comforters Guild. Just call or email Melissa at (206) 987-6806 or melissa.cardenas@seattlechildrens.org, and let her know that you are inquiring about the fabric/supplies through Katie's Comforters Guild.

We are blessed by, and grateful to, each one of our donors!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Lots of News to Share

Gregg and I visited Lucile a short while ago, and picked up a BIG new donation. She has been making pillowcases for the patients at Seattle Children's Hospital, so instead of hospital-issue bedding, the children will have a cheery, personal pillowcase. In addition, she has been making receiving blankets for the very youngest patients. Lucile donated 60 pillowcases, 13 receiving blankets and one crocheted blanket! She truly is a "producer."

Here is Lucile with some of her most recent work:
 Thank you, Lucile! You are a treasure!

Our guild's far-away friend, Jaimee Martin, has been busy quilting, as well. Here are Jaimee's three most recent beauties:
Aren't they awesome? - so colorful, original and cheerful! Three patients are going to be delighted to cuddle with those quilts.
Thank you, Jaimee! We are super-grateful to you.

The latest copy of Guild News (the Guild Association's publication) is available here:

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Free Fabric & A Question of Yardage

Katie's Comforters Guild is the fortunate recipient of great generosity from quilters. Some quilters - or their family members - find it necessary to clear out their "stash" from time to time. When we receive a message from such a person, we immediately try to match the offering with a quilter who needs fabric.

Sherry B. has a stash of 7 bags of cotton fabric, composed of pieces which are under a yard in size. For quilters who enjoy piecing and making "scrap" quilts, this could be a gold mine, but for others, it is not a good fit. Do any of you want to speak to Sherry about taking this fabric? If so, please contact me here or via our Facebook page. She needs to donate it ASAP.

Going forward, it would be helpful for donors and quilters alike if we can be as specific as possible about our preferences/abilities in the question of yardage. Thank you for bringing this to our attention, Sherry, and thank you for your generosity!

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Annual Meeting & Luncheon, 2016

Katie's Comforters Guild members Mary, Ellie, Bonnie, Karen & Sue
Five members of Katie's Comforters Guild attended the 2016 Guild Association Annual Meeting & Luncheon celebration at the Westin Hotel on Friday. Four of us drove over together, taking the ferry from Bainbridge Island to Seattle, and one came via the Bremerton ferry. We were seated together for the luncheon, while we watched inspiring videos, listened to personal stories of patient treatment, and heard doctors discuss their research and motivation.
Vice President of our guild, Mary Ryan, and guild member Sue Hart of the Sew-and-Sews
Katie's Comforters Guild President Karen Gerstenberger with guild members Ellie Boren (Katie's "Grandma B") and Bonnie Petersen
Awards were given, gratitude expressed, success celebrated and inspiration was shared all around; tears were shed and applause rang out, culminating in a standing ovation for the featured speaker, Kat Tiscornia - a patient who has taken her own story of cure to the world, in order to inspire others. And inspire she did!

The Guild Association to which we belong had a record-breaking year in 2015. Here are some of the highlights:
  • We have 6,200 members
  • We include 450 guilds
  • 24 new guilds were added in 2015
  • 67 are Research Champion guilds (donating $2,500 or more to research in one calendar year)
  • We gave 125,905 volunteer hours
  • Guilds raised $12,919,100 in project revenue (about half of that was raised by the Friends of Costco Guild - HOORAY for Costco!)
  • $140,200 was raised by membership revenue
  • $602,000 was net Bargain Boutique revenue
  • $20,267,195 was donated to Seattle Children's Hospital Foundation programs in guild-affiliated revenue by guild members and their friends
You can see why our Guild Association is a leader in fundraising, and is admired by hospitals everywhere. Please join us, and come along next year to share in the giving and the celebration - it's fun, educational and rewarding!

Monday, May 9, 2016

Annette and Fabric Traditions

We have been fortunate to receive another donation from Fabric Traditions in NY. Annette S. sent a box of FUN team-licensed cotton, which will make wonderful quilts, if any of you would like to take on such a project. Feel free to contact me here, or via email at KARENLBOREN at yahoo dot com.

Here is the assortment which Annette sent:
I realize that some of the teams represented here are rivals of the Seattle Seahawks, but since Seattle Children's Hospital serves patients from all over the world, I hope we can set aside some of our feelings about the (insert name of rival team here), and make these quilts for the kids! If it's too hard to feature one of these teams, perhaps an adventurous quilter will make a quilt with a bit of fabric from each team in it?

The only request which came with the box from Fabric Traditions is that we share photos of the finished quilts with them. That will be easy and rewarding for whoever makes the quilts, and we will be pleased to put them here on the blog (& on Katie's Comforters Guild's Facebook page).

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Love from Linda K-H

Our friends at Poulsbo's local independent bookstore, Liberty Bay Books, are always supportive and helpful. They often assist with delivery of blankets to Katie's Comforters Guild, acting as an informal "drop off" place for quilters or knitters who wish to donate.

Last week, Gregg stopped by and picked up two sweet quilts which had been made by the loving hands of Linda K-H, a teacher in our town who has a heart of gold.

Here are Linda's latest lovely quilts:
Blanket and quilt donations like these make all of the difference to sick children. They bring joy, comfort and warmth into the hospital room.
Thank you, Linda!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The Sew-n-Sews' Latest Bounty

Katie's Comforters Guild is grateful for all of our friends and supporters, whether they are guild members or not. The Sew-n-Sews are a wonderful combination of both. They meet once a month to sew for patients at Seattle Children's Hospital, and it is because of guild member Sue H. that we are blessed with this relationship. Sue was our original contact, who introduced us to her friends. Thank you, Sue!

Having a regular group meeting date makes it easy to plan (and not to miss) a sewing gathering. There is fellowship and fun in meeting around a craft table and sharing love and care for others in need. The Sew-n-Sews met recently, and produced a fabulous new batch of baby blankets and quilts.
We are deeply grateful for your dedication and generosity, Sew-n-Sews - thank you!

Friday, April 15, 2016

April's Giving

Our guild's friend April C. has been at it again - making beautiful, original quilts and donating them to Seattle Children's Hospital via Katie's Comforters Guild. Here is her latest batch of seven:
We appreciate April's generosity, creativity, industry and sense of community. She is not only willing to meet with fabric donors to collect their gifts, and regularly transforms those gifts into quilts for patients; she also sorts and catalogs each donation very carefully via spreadsheet format, and delivers the finished quilts to the hospital. The result is a pleasure for all to see (above)!

Thank you, April, and thanks to fabric donor Sherry B.!

Friday, April 8, 2016

Lucile Donates 38 New Blankets

Gregg and I drove to Port Ludlow to see Lucile last weekend.  There in her living room were 38 new blankets, made with her love and artistry, for Katie's Comforters Guild to deliver to Seattle Children's Hospital.

This batch of blankets are mostly receiving blankets for the tiniest patients. Soft flannel, sewed with sweetly embroidered trim, mixed and matched in color and pattern for interest, fun and cheer. Here are some examples:
We are deeply grateful to Lucile for her continued generosity in donating her time, talent and materials to our guild. We love delivering comfort to patients and their families, and donors like Lucile make it possible!
Thank you, Lucile!

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

In the Words of a Junior Guild Member: Briana

In the words of Briana R., a junior member of our guild:
 "In 2010, I joined a local group called Katie’s Comforters Guild (KCG). The guild was started by Karen Gerstenberger after her daughter Katie’s battle with cancer.  Mrs. Gerstenberger had seen how having a special blanket while in the hospital had helped her daughter cope. She decided to help other children like Katie through the comfort of blankets by creating a guild that makes and donates handmade blankets to the Seattle Children’s Hospital.
"A few years after joining the guild, my church youth group was brainstorming community service projects and I immediately thought of KCG.  After some discussion with my youth group leader and my mother, we devised a plan to get the youth group involved. The only stipulation was that I had to convince my peers to participate. I presented the idea of making blankets to them and they unanimously voted it through. Now every year my mom and I prepare fleece fabric; I then demonstrate to my peers the “how to’s” and together we make as many blankets as possible and donate them to the children at Seattle Children’s Hospital. Thank you notes from recipient families affirming the tremendous comfort our blankets bring provide touching testimony to our impact.
"The Gerstenberger’s story inspired me, and I am always seeking out creative ways to help others. My mother was immensely supportive of the idea of joining Katie’s Comforters Guild and first enrolled the two of us as members in 2010. After several years of involvement as individuals in the guild, I saw an opportunity to extend the project and its mission to a wider audience through my church youth group. I felt that its creative nature would appeal to my peers as it did to me, and that the blankets we could make would be an invaluable contribution to the community. There are many concrete ways to tend to those in need but this is a unique project in that its sole intent is to tend to peoples’ spirits.
"When my youth group first announced they were looking for a new community service project, I approached my youth leader with the idea of getting the group involved in making blankets. She approved of the idea and suggested that, as a next step, I present the project to my peers and request their input. Once they voted it in, we discussed dates and my mother and I purchased and prepared the fleece for the blankets. On the appointed date I brought the fabric to the class and explained to my peers how to make the blankets. The finished blankets were then delivered to the hospital. I have led my youth group through this process three times now and so far we have donated 21 cheery blankets to sick children at Seattle Children’s Hospital. Although I am member of the guild, members other than my mother had no role in my activity. 
"While my youth group leader assisted with the logistics of the project, the execution and leadership of the project fell to me. The most challenging part of the project was not only convincing the other youth to vote the idea through, but also presenting the entire concept in a way that got through to them and inspired them to overcome their apathy enough to fully commit to and invest themselves in the project and see the difference we could make to the children and their families as they fight their illnesses.
"This project provided a wonderful opportunity for me to grow as a leader and a member of my community. I grew closer to fellow members of my youth group and was amazed to see how, what to us was such a small contribution, had such an immense influence on the patients’ lives. It is one thing to understand in a distant and abstract sense that you are helping someone but it is another to witness it. 
"While unfortunately, due to hospital regulations, we are not allowed to personally deliver the blankets to the patients, families occasionally take the time to write to the guild thanking us for the blankets. One family wrote that the blanket their child received “will be a part of her entire childhood” and made their “experience a little brighter.” The youth group has been lucky enough to receive a few such letters and the stories and gratitude of those we help touches us just as much as our blankets touch them. Being a part of that beautiful relationship is truly an honor. But it isn’t because of the letters, or even because of my youth group that I keep making blankets, although those are both incredible aspects of it, I make blankets because I understand how much something to focus on and cling to means in times of such anxiety and pain. It means absolutely everything in that moment, and I would do anything to even just begin to assuage that agony. 
"This experience is something that has sculpted the course of my life; I will retain my ties to the guild and continue to spread our message of comfort, generosity and love, in some capacity, for the rest of my life. Being a member of Katie’s Comforters Guild and participating with my youth group has changed both how I see volunteering and how I volunteer.  The project has provided me with a volunteer opportunity to do something, at which I both excel and enjoy, while helping others and growing as a leader. My connection to and love for this project makes it by far the most influential service experience that I have participated in over the years and inspires me to be more emotionally present and invested in current and future volunteer efforts."

 Thank you, Briana, for sharing your story with us!  
Do you know a young person who is looking for ways to serve in the community? Everyone is welcome to join Katie's Comforters Guild, including young people! The application to join our guild is HERE.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Living the Faith & Giving a Reason to Smile

In February, a small but mighty group of young people (Confirmation Candidates) from St. Olaf Catholic Church in Poulsbo put their hands together to make these three great fleece blankets that are sure to bring some smiles to at least three kiddos at Seattle Children’s Hospital. 
The youth who made these are “newbies” to the handiwork of these cozy comforters for our guild, but our junior guild member, Briana R. was right there to help them learn the knotting technique and they were experts in no time. The fun themes of these blankets will give the patients who receive them something to lift their spirits for sure! 

Thank you, Briana for leading by example, and thank you new recruits at St. Olaf for giving of your time and talents!
With great gratitude,
Mary & Katie’s Comforters Guild

Monday, March 28, 2016

Mary Meets with Tanya S.

Our Vice President, Mary Ryan, has shared the following update with us:

“It is in giving the we receive.” – St. Francis of Assisi

Thank you, Tanya S.!

It was on one of our recent and sometimes rare gloriously sunny days that I was able to share a refreshing walk at the Bloedel Reserve with a dear friend of mine, Tanya S. 

We haven’t seen each other in years, but the friendship and laughter came easily, spending time together was a gift. 

Before parting, Tanya gave me another gift, this soft and cozy knit blanket as a donation for the guild. 
Being a non-knitter, I marveled at the evenness of her stitches and the cuddliness of her handiwork. True to her character, Tanya quickly dismissed any compliments with gracious humility and told me how she found comfort and peace for herself in the making of the blanket. I truly hope that everyone who gives to our guild can experience such therapeutic “self-bennies” in their giving as Tanya has expressed. Thank you, Tanya, for the beautiful spring green blanket for one of Seattle Children’s patients, and for reminding us of the multiple benefits for both the giver and the recipient of such generosity.

With a grateful heart,