Throughout the year members of the Foothills Quilters busy their hands and hearts in order to hold safe the traditions contained in their craft as well as make certain locals in need keep warm.
Pieces of art crafted from cloth are just a part of what viewers see as they look on some quilts as members of the Yadkin Valley Rotary Club recently discovered when guild member Carol McDowell discussed a special quilt she had made out of ties.
Quilts often contain special memories because of the material used hearkening to quilts made from necessity out of whatever scraps of clothing were available.
“I’ve made two quilts for [Hal Stewart] before. He asked me to make a quilt [for his granddaughter] out of her bathing suits,” said McDowell. “I’m never doing that again.
“I wouldn’t of done it for anybody else in the world except for him, but she loves it, and then the next quilt that I made for him was out of his own neck ties,” said the woman known for claiming ties from the choir loft.
Several quilts reveal their history and beauty each year the fourth Saturday of each month during the Yadkin Valley Pumpkin Festival when the guild holds an annual quilt show.
Although these quilts reflect every aspect of local history from the textile industry that made Elkin famous to the unknown individuals who hand-stitched strips it is the annual holiday giving that brings the guild the most satisfaction.
“At Christmas time, we present the quilts that we’ve worked on all year long to several organizations for the people that they serve and minister to,” said guild president Andrae Dehaan.
According to guild treasurer Vicki Whelan, this year Foothills Quilters presented regular recipients The ARK of Elkin with 12 quilts, Your Father’s House of Dobson 16 quilts and 19 blankets for youth-focused organization I Support My Community.
In addition to serving the shelters and sheltering organization, the guild was able to make a donation to an additional project inspired by an article in The Tribune about the Be A Santa To A Senior program.
“We thought we might be able to get at least one and everybody thought that it was a great idea,” said Whelan, “so when it came to what we have left, we have five going to [Home Instead Senior Care of Mount Airy] this year as well.”
In addition to helping declining seniors stay in their home by providing basic assistance with personal and home cleanliness as well as other basic needs, Home Instead Senior Care has a yearly program to help all area seniors at Christmas time.
“Our first year back in 2011 I think we may have had about 100 seniors that we were able to provide with gifts and now this is our sixth year and we’re up to 424,” said Office Manager Angela Allen. “Our hope next year is 500. Our goal every year is more and more.”
Recipients of the Be A Santa To A Senior program are not necessarily Home Instead clients, but also individuals recommended by, “people in the community that have reached out to us to say ‘hey I know someone who would really benefit from this program,’” said Allen, “or people from facilities around town.”
Allen appreciated the opportunity Foothills Quilters gave the Be A Santa To A Senior program to continue giving.
“That senior in need, they may not have family,” said Allen, “someone that’s not receiving a gift this year. [Giving to them has] been a joy this year. It’s been fun.”
Also joyous at receiving quilts on behalf of guests was Cynthia Cothren, director of The ARK, and Betty Holthouser, vice president of the board.
“We really appreciate all you do for our guests each year,” said Cothren, describing the immediate heirloom the gifts become.
This was echoed by Crystal Best of I Support My Community.
“Some of these kids love their blankets so much they want to get one for another family member,” said Best, who described the emotional warmth included in these gifts.
“A lot of these kids have to share rooms, even beds, and they don’t have anything of their own,” said Best. “These blankets are something of their very own that they can take with them wherever they go.”
That kind of security is also important to adults such as those at Your Father’s House where a recent addition increased their ability to serve the community as well as their needs.
John Creason, who was once a guest of the house and is now an employee, talked about the importance of receiving his quilt several years previously.
“It reminds you you’re not alone when you are at your worst,” said Creason, “and most of the guys are there because they have hit rock bottom.”
“Thank you guys for the people that you minister to and the work that you do,” said guild president Dehaan. She not only appreciates the work that goes into the quilts, but also the beauty of local barn quilt squares adorning buildings.
“I love seeing the different designs on barns and other buildings when we are traveling,” said Dehaan of the barn art that proclaims the local quilting craft for explorers along many roads throughout the Yadkin Valley including the Yadkin County Quilt Trail.
Traversing lands full of history as well as mesmerizing landscapes, like any good quilt, the sight of these barn quilt squares can lead to lessons about the land and the people who made the community what it is.
“They are a colorful reminder of our heritage and I always love it when I spot one,” said McDowell.
Quilters also love it when they spot their work, such as in the case of a quilt made to help with expenses renovating the recently opened Reeves Theater.
The Reeves quilt project began in 2009 and the finished product was raffled at the Yadkin Valley Pumpkin Festival in 2011.
“I remember being thrilled because four of mine were chosen and I was a new quilter,” said Whalen of the quilt depicting the variety of entertainment expected when the Reeves originally opened, including dance and theater of both the live and film variety.
Some of this tradition continues not only through the newly-renovated theater, but also through the Foothills Quilters who meet on the third Tuesday of each month at the Foothills Arts Council located at 129 Church St.
Fellows as well as females meet at 12:45 p.m. for refreshments with a meeting at 1 p.m.
For more information about the Foothills Quilters, email firstname.lastname@example.org or go to foothillsquilters.com.
Beanie Taylor can be reached at 336-258-4058 or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/TBeanieTaylor.