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,

Saturday, March 19, 2016

10 Quilts & Blankets from Jaimee M.

One of our guild's friends, Jaimee M., continues to generously supply Katie's Comforters with quilts and blankets from afar. She creates these cheerful comforters and then lets us know she is sending them to the hospital - doubly generous, because she has to ship them from out of state!

Here is Jaimee's latest batch:
The applique bunnies in spring colors are so cute!
Look at the variety - something for everyone!
We are grateful for your generous support, Jaimee - thank you!

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Bonnie's Beautiful Handiwork

Bonnie came over to deliver seven gorgeous quilts last week. Her designs are expertly crafted, including free-form quilting stitches. Bonnie dyes many of her own fabric pieces, so her work is one-of-a-kind, from start to finish!

Here she is with her latest batch:
Baseball quilts, using a diamond motif and diamond-patterned flannel for backing
These were made using some of Bonnie's own fabric designs
Close-up of her original fabrics and GORGEOUS quilting stitches
More beautiful stitching...
...and more
...a spiral
...and a square spiral.
Thank you, Bonnie, for sharing your gifts with Katie's Comforters Guild! These quilts are treasures, and will bless the patients who receive them with beauty, artistry and cheer.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Lucile Creates 13 New Quilts

Dear Lucile has done it again! She has donated 13 new quilts & blankets to Katie's Comforters Guild, sending them with Dawn via Mary to Tracie (our friend who is an R.N. at Seattle Children's Hospital). Look at how cute and cheerful they are:
Tracie will deliver our donations on her way to work, saving us miles and hours of driving time (and expense). This is another example of donating gifts of time and talent to our guild. We are continually grateful to Tracie for her contributions!

Thank you, Lucile, for making these beauties, and thank you, Dawn, Mary and Tracie for helping to get them into the hands of patients!

Monday, March 14, 2016

The Sew-n-Sews

A wonderful group of women who live in the south part of Kitsap County - Cindy, Dawn, Becky, Pam and Sue - call themselves "The Sew-n-Sews." This group (led by Dawn - see more of her handiwork in the previous post here) meets about once a month to sew for Katie's Comforters Guild. At their last two meetings, our Vice President, Mary Ryan has joined them, to help create receiving blankets for the hospital. Here is Mary's posting about their gathering last week:

"Thank you, Dawn, Cindy, Sue, Becky, and Pam! Another gathering of these amazing ladies and what do you get? Blankets and more blankets for the babies at Seattle Children’s Hospital! With the creative talents of Cindy snatching and matching bits and pieces of flannel remnants, the smooth and swift wielding of a rotary cutter by Dawn, and the masterful machine sewing by Sue, Becky, and Pam, we had seven sweet receiving blankets stitched, pressed, and tagged in about 4 hours’ time. 

I “manned” the iron and took in all the joyful sights and sounds: the delight over cute fabrics “Oooo!  Aww!” the gentle “Whooshhh” of the steam iron, the happy “Purr” of all three sewing machines, the hugs, the laughter, the caring friendships. It was a true pleasure to witness and partake in the experience. We can’t give thanks enough for each of these generous ladies and their prayerful giving of their craft for the greater comfort and healing of others. Blessings on you all!"

Taking note of Lucile's custom-made tags for her blankets and quilts, Sue designed a lovely one which the Sew-n-Sews attach to the blankets they make. Take a look:
Isn't that awesome?  
Thank you, Sue, Mary, Becky, Cindy, Pam and Dawn! We are thankful for the Sew-n-Sews!

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Dawn's Golf Quilt

A blog posting from our Vice President, Mary Ryan:

"Dawn does it again!  Our dear friend Dawn has created another beautiful quilt for Katie's Comforters Guild and one lucky recipient at Seattle Children's Hospital. This one is a "classic" golf theme, with the focus fabric being a collage of golfers from "back in the day." Dawn coordinated this fun fabric with several other complementary small prints and solids and finished with a soft and cozy flannel backing and an artsy curvy finishing stitch.
"It is beautiful, Dawn! Thanks so much!"

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Collaboration in Giving

Our friend April C. has been busy gathering donated fabric and turning it into beautiful, quilted comfort for patients at Seattle Children's Hospital. Here are her latest five lovelies, made from fabric donated by MaryLee C.
April has just received another donation of fabric from Sherry B., and will soon be at work making quilts with those pieces. We are always grateful to receive gifts of time, talent and treasure (or materials) from generous-hearted individuals like April, MaryLee and Sherry.  
Thank you all for your donations! These will bring real solace to sick children and their families.