Sewing the seeds of love for cancer patients in Kawartha Lakes

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KAWARTHA LAKES- Every quilt tells a story and for Victoria’s Quilts it’s a story of love and support for cancer patients in Kawartha Lakes.

Judy Atkinson started volunteering with Victoria’s Quilts, Kawartha Lakes Branch,more than ten years ago and since then they’ve stitched together more than 3100 quilts. “We average about 20 a month, they can be requested by anybody and can be sent by mail or hand delivered.” Judy tells Kawartha 411.

Victoria’s Quilts Canada (VQC) provides handmade quilts to people living with cancer all across Canada. The quilts are meant to bring physical comfort as well as spiritual comfort in knowing that they are not alone in their struggle.”It’s always a surprise to me how emotional they get when the quilts are delivered” Carolyn Bergin told Kawartha 411.

Bergin is one of about 50 volunteers in the Lindsay Chapter who give approximately 10 to 12 hours a month of their time to the cause. “You just get such joy”, say Atkinson. “That you’ve accomplished something worth while. You get satisfaction in the thank-you notes you get.”

The women work out of basements and grocery store community rooms to get the job done and it’s a lengthy process. First Judy picks out a pattern and then finds the fabric. The fabric is then washed so it won’t shrink later. It is cut into kits and the pieces are numbered. From there it is sewn together. After sewing the top the quilt passes on to another group of ladies who put the flannel on the back and batting in the middle. Finally it’s taken to a large knitting machine housed in the basement of the former Siders Jewelry Store to be quilted. Each step along the way, infusing the quilt with the love and strength of those working on it.

“They cherish them,” says Bergin. These aren’t just any quilt, Victoria’s Quilts can be customized. “I can link them up with something that’s important to them. Perhaps someone who does a lot of golfing would love a gold themed quilt, or a horse quilt for someone on a farm. Berlin says a few weeks ago she used sail boats for an 88 year old man who was in the Navy. “I can imagine he would think that was the most beautiful quilt in the world.”

There are 27 branches of Victoria’s Quilts across Canada with over 1,300 volunteers.  Since 1999, they have delivered over 57,000 quilts to people living with cancer across the country. They make and distribute about 600 quilts per month. The charity was established by Betty Giffin of Ottawa in October 1999. She invited a small group of friends to discuss the possibility of groups getting together to make quilts to donate to people living with cancer in Canada and grew from there.

The quilts are free to cancer patients but the costs for the organization keep going up. “The costs have doubled since I started,” Judy remarks. The average quilt is costing us $50 to produce.” Fundraisers are held through the year but its been getting more difficult to keep up. “There are months there is no money,” according to Atkinson. That’s when another group of local women got involved and donated some serious cash to Victoria’s. “This means we can keep rolling ahead and not have to worry. We will keep fundraising but it’s a relief.”

100 Women Who Care Kawartha Lakes came to the rescue, donating $16,050. Click here to find out more about them:http://www.kawartha411.ca/2017/04/27/100-women-women-who-care-4-hours-and-almost-60000/

It’s not just the cancer patients who are getting support and camaraderie, the volunteers are as well. Atkinson says, “One lady who has been coming for years to sew will come and say it’s the one day she looks forward to every month.” “I do like to be with other people,” says Bergin.

Click here for more information: http://victoriasquiltscanada.com/index.html