Every so often questions or comments come to me that I think everyone might be interested in learning the answer to. Then I address them here on the blog. Today is one of those days.
I recently finished a quilt for our grandson Scotty. I had shown pictures of the quilt saying that I had some problems with the waviness. Making it was a learning experience for me and trust me, I learned some lessons. At completion of the top, it looked like this….
Not good. I didn’t know how it would end up looking. I was sure it would be okay but didn’t know if it would be awesome. In the blog post I wrote about it… (Read that HERE if you missed it) I wrote, “I thought I should set the quilt aside and make a new one but then I decided: Nope. I’m not putting it back in the closet. I am quilting it. If it turns out, it will be Scotty’s quilt. If not, it will go on to charity.”
After talking about the problems I had with Scotty’s quilt, this comment came in from Dorian:
“I would still give it to Scotty too… if it’s not good enough for your own, why does it go to charity? Don’t they deserve something worthy like family? I’m sorry if that came out rough, but I really want to know. It’s been on my mind for a few years now. I see many, many quilts go to charity (via the internet) and I see many, many people say “if it doesn’t work out, I’ll just give it to charity” or “This isn’t quality fabric, but it’s good enough for charity”. I would think that those in need, need good quality quilts, not ones that will fall apart thru lack of quality materials. Or receiving them just because of a few puckers or such. I really am just curious, I’m not trying to be negative or say you don’t do good, because I know you do wonderful work for charity and you give lots.”
I’ve thought a lot about this comment. I was a little surprised by the comment and really started thinking about it. I know when donating quilts, I always donate my “not so favorite ones”. I have donated ones that didn’t meet my expectations…but it that wrong? Is that cheating the recipient?
Then I thought, “Nope…I’m not writing about this. It’s a can of worms”. But then the more I thought about, I decided I am going to write about my personal thoughts on charity quilt giving…so here goes.
I have made and donated quilts through Lutheran World Relief. Some quilters would be bothered if they saw the quilts that are put together and donated.
Here is a photo of quilts being gifted….
Here is the picture of quilts that are being dedicated in a church. (These are actually pretty fabulous on the LWR quilt spectrum.)
Here are quilt that our daughter Kayla’s Home Ec class put together that will be donated to Lutheran World Relief.
I can guarantee that some of these quilts are made from inferior fabrics. Some use old quilts for batting. Some have cotton fabric on the front and sheets on the backing. Some are made from old draperies.
When working with Lutheran World Relief, quilters are TOLD, “Do not make nice quilts. The will be stolen if you do”. Using mish matched, sometimes inferior fabric is part of the process.
I do want to stop here just a minute….Inferior fabric means a lot of different things to different people. Here is a list of reasons why some people classify fabric as “inferior”.
-not quilt shop fabric
-fabric from JoAnn’s
-fabric that is dated
-fabric that feels stiff
-fabric that has a poor thread count
For me, none are “inferior”….they all each have their place.
A good portion of LWR relief quilts are not used for warmth. Many are thrown in low tree branches and used as shade. Many are used as a clean surface to eat a meal. As quilts come in to LWR they are sorted so they can be distributed appropriately.
That covers one of my experiences with charity quilt giving. The next I’d like to cover is my experience while thrifting. You all I know I thrift. I thrift a lot. In my thrifting I regularly find quilts that were donated by charitable groups to people and the people then donated them to thrift stores. Hmm. Many of these quilts are in NEW condition. MANY.
I have also talked with people who were VERY offended that charity quilts they made were later found at thrift stores.
That covers my thrifting experience….now on to personal giving. This one isn’t a charitable giving comment but a personal. I gifted a quilt. It was well beyond anything I would give as a charity quilt. The child who got it, isn’t allowed to use it as it doesn’t “match” their room.
I gave another quilt to a young one that I thought could use a nice quilt. The person left it at my house and forgot about it. Then 6 weeks later came back and wanted it. It didn’t mean much to them in the first place…did it?
I have personally had experience with people who are receiving assistance to:
-Complain about what was gifted to them
-Complain about the amount that was gifted to them
-Sign up for donations and then turn around and buy $170 pair of jeans then claiming they have no money.
-Sign up for donations and have WAY fancier cars, phones and clothes then I personally have.
Here are some quilts I have donated personally. Why did I donate it? I made it but it wasn’t a quilt I attached to. I thought it needed borders and had lost my gusto to figure it out.
Another quilt I donated… Why? It was small…I don’t really have a place for it. I have many other quilts here I like better.
Another…I made this from fabric that I didn’t love and wanted to use up.
Wasn’t fabric I loved….
None of these quilts were quilts my family would have wanted- besides, my immediate family has enough quilts. Does any of that make them “charity or donation quilts”?
Taken the things I’ve said into consideration. When I donate a quilt to charity I do not pick my best and most favorite. My family and I myself deserve them.
I do not know, at times, when I gift a quilt, who will be getting it. Will the person genuinely love and want it? Will the person give it to the thrift store? Why give my best when I don’t know?
I finished a bunch of quilt tops for the West, Texas disaster a few years ago. This picture warmed my heart.
This lady is obviously happy with her quilt. I long armed and finished this very quilt.
In my writing of the blog post I wrote, “If it turns out, it will be Scotty’s quilt. If not, it will go on to charity.”
My family knows quilting because they are around it all the time. My family might notice the bow on the side of the quilt… See?
Others who don’t know quilts might not even recognize it.
This quilt turned out just perfect for Scotty.
The bottom line for me is this:
I am the giver. I can give what I want.
They are the receiver. They can accept whatever they want.
There is nothing wrong with me giving a quilt from dated fabric. There is nothing wrong with me giving a quilt without the highest thread count to an appropriate organization. There is nothing wrong with me giving a quilt that has a pucker or two in the quilting. They typically don’t show after being washed unless it is examined closely. I can give a quilt with a “bow”. Who knows where the quilt will end up anyway?
With all of this in mind….I focus my giving on
-causes me or my family are part of
-causes that are for someone who has hit rock bottom
-causes that benefit the makers AND the recipients
I love helping with quilts for Cheryl’s organization House of Hope….they help women being released from prison and they have nothing else. Lori’s organization Sharehouse who are helping people with addictions. There are more out there but these are two I like.
I have also found GREAT JOY in giving and supporting the causes of others. I look at the benefit of charity quilting being more for the people making the quilts than the recipients. When I quilted with the ladies for LWR, it was a wonderful sharing time where the people who came socialized, caught up and supported each other. Of all the things I do with charity quilting, this means the absolute most to me. There are so many people out there making quilts that this is the the thing that make them feel needed and wanted. Everyone needs to feel needed. To be honest, with the charity quilting I do, this is more of my mission than actually giving the quilts.
Please note: These are my personal thoughts based on my personal experience. Everyone is welcome to leave a comment on this post. Please be respectful and base your comment on your own experience and your own thoughts without criticizing another’s.