Local quilters have been busy stitching, and bed builders have been hammering away, all to help children have a comfortable spot to rest.
The nonprofit Strawberry Mountain Quilt Guild, formed in February, has joined forces with the John Day chapter of Sleep in Heavenly Peace, a nonprofit group that makes single and bunk beds for children in need.
The guild recently donated seven twin-sized quilts to SHP. They are sewing four more quilts, which are near completion, with another six in the planning stages.
Samni Bell, guild president, said they intend to create 30-35 quilts this year to donate to SHP.
Lending their energy with Bell to the guild are vice president Heather Swank, secretary/treasurer Bonnie Watt and board member/advisor Pat Amling, who also helps design the SHP quilts.
Starting in April, a total of 13 guild members worked together in “sit and sew” sessions to complete the seven quilts, including Bonnie Zick, Carolyn Wall, Cindy Jackson, Alexandria Acoff (Bell’s niece from Texas), Bonnie Watt, Trace Andrew and others.
Bell said they gather monthly for a “multitude” of reasons, including supporting each other and the community through continuing education and philanthropic efforts with Sleep in Heavenly Peace “to provide quilts for every bed made for a child.”
The quilters meet the first Wednesday of each month at the John Day Church of the Nazarene or Bell’s quilting studio at BellyAcres Twisted Stitchery in Mt. Vernon.
Bell said the ladies create the quilt tops and bottoms, and she does all the finishing work, including using her long arm quilting machine. The machine can stitch heart designs, butterflies, four-wheelers, trucks and more.
She said they receive special requests on occasion for certain themes or characters.
The guild’s purpose includes fostering an appreciation of quilts and the art of quilting, Bell said, with members gathering to learn, teach and exchange ideas and information, all to help develop and improve their quilting skills.
They also work to increase knowledge of traditional and contemporary quilting techniques with the general public, promoting it as a valuable art form by increasing awareness of quilt history, design and preservation through teaching, publicity and exhibits.
A big part of their purpose is the charitable giving of quilts, encouraging fellow artists and promoting good will.
Bell said she and four guild members not only delivered seven quilts on June 15, but also participated in the SHP build day.
The Sleep in Heavenly Peace group, led by chapter president Susie Brown of John Day, took part in a June 15 nationwide build day, “Bunks Across America,” and the local group created 31 single beds in one day.
“It was a wonderful experience, and Susie Brown was so gracious, and she teared up,” Bell said. “We displayed them through the build.”
Brown said the local build was held in honor of the late Les Guttu and the late Kylee Bruce, who is the daughter of Gaylene Moyers.
A total of 31 single beds were made, and a few were delivered on Sunday to families in Baker City.
“We have beds available for those who need them,” Brown said, noting that currently they don’t have any requests from Grant County families for beds.
Brown said she was pleased to have the Strawberry Mountain Quilt Guild partnering with them to provide quilts for each bed.
“They are wonderful,” Brown said of the guild members. “It means that we don’t have to come up with the funds to cover that — it’s phenomenal.”
Since the chapter’s inaugural build in August 2018, four more builds were held and a total of 78 beds have been made with more than 200 volunteers involved in the process.
Volunteer work with SHP includes everything from fundraising, picking up donations and supplies, cutting, sanding and staining boards. Other helpers deliver the beds, assembling them in the recipients’ bedrooms. The beds, all in twin size, come with a new mattress and all-new bedding, including a quilt.
Brown said she knows the good feeling this service brings to her, but she also recently learned what it means to other volunteers.
She said there was much said at Guttu’s funeral service about his time volunteering for Sleep in Heavenly Peace.
“SHP was talked about a lot,” Brown said. “It was something he enjoyed being involved in.”
“I realized it doesn’t just help me,” she said. “It helps those volunteers that help even just a little bit.”
To learn more about the Strawberry Mountain Quilt Guild, call 541-932-4422.