December 14, 2011

Quilting for a good reason

By Lauren Billing
Farmer Staff Writer

The Quilting Guild of McKenzie County is made up of women throughout the community that love to quilt! But even more than quilting, they share a joy of community.
Going to a quilting meeting or just popping in for one of their weekday craft sessions is sure to include some food and lots of laughter, along with some quilting. Though many of the members are busy women, they find the time to participate in a group formed around a common hobby, but sustained through friendship.
The current president, Angie McManus, started her two-year term this September. She is in charge of making sure all members know what projects the group is working on, where the monthly meetings are, and helps organize workshops for members to learn new skills. Though she is a relatively new member of the group, McManus has quickly become an integral part of the group.
Dating from the early 1980s, the Quilting Guild of McKenzie County has spent countless hours working on projects together. Whether they are making quilts for family or friends or sewing potholders as Christmas gifts, they work, laugh, and share in community. But the group does more than sew for themselves.
Throughout the life of the group, the Quilting Guild members have developed a real sense of social responsibility. The current guild has continued that theme in making their hobby about more than just their own enjoyment.
They have made a strong commitment to benefitting local organizations and charities with their talents. And when these women set their minds to something, they go the extra mile!
The Guild makes something every year for the Good Shepherd Bazaar. For this year’s event, held on Nov. 19, the Guild made tag blankets for infants. The blankets where fleecy squares complete with ribbon toggels for babies’ hands to touch and feel.
In the past, they have made Quilts of Valor with matching pillowcases for veterans, baby blankets for the Women’s Crisis Center in Williston, fleece blankets for McKenzie County Hospital, and a quilt to support the fight against breast cancer that hangs at the McKenzie County Clinic.
At a recent weekday meeting, members were asked why they felt so passionate about donating their handiwork. McManus shrugged and said, “We just like to give back to the community. We are sharing our craft.” Pam Ramage, fellow Guild member, laughed and added, “More like sharing our addiction!”
Their latest project focused on helping children in the local foster care system.
The group made pillowcases of all kinds for the foster care program run by McKenzie County Social Services. The cases were touchable, fun creations ranging from flowers to pirates to Dr. Suess. The Guild put together 27 pillowcases, complete with pillows, to try and meet the overwhelming need of local foster children.
Lori Nordby is a social worker with McKenzie County Social Services and does a lot of work with the foster care system. She knows firsthand what is it like to receive a child in the middle of the night. “Sometimes kids come in with a sack of clothes and that’s it,” says Nordby.
The donation of something as simple as a pillow makes a world of difference for some of the kids.
“This is huge for us,” explains Nordby. “They (foster children) just light up when we give them things like these.” And with the current strain on Social Services in McKenzie County, the foster kids could use something to smile about.
There has been a massive influx of children being taken into foster care in McKenzie County. The number of children needing support has nearly doubled in recent years.
Desiree Sorenson works in Social Services for McKenzie County and sees all the children that enter their care.
“Over the last six months we’ve been working with about 20 children in foster care. Currently, there are 21 children in foster care in McKenzie County,” says Sorenson.
The most difficult aspect of the flood of foster children is that nearly every child that enters the foster care system in McKenzie County must be sent outside the county to receive care. There are currently no registered foster families anywhere in McKenzie County. The upheaval children experience from being removed from their families is only exacerbated by the distance that is then put between them.
There are plans to start licensing McKenzie County families as registered foster care families beginning Jan. 1. Any interested families can contact Social Services to receive more information.
The Quilting Guild hopes their pillows will give some comfort to these children. “We make each of these (pillowcases) with a child in mind,” says Ramage.
So whether these local quilters are working hard at their machines or just laughing and chatting with each other, you can be sure the result will be something amazing!
The Quilting Guild meets the third Monday of every month during the fall, winter, and spring. And even though the group has over 25 members, it is always looking for new faces. Inquiries about the Quilting Guild can be made in the fabric section of Barrett Pharmacy & Variety at 145 Main Street in Watford City.
Upcoming events for the Quilting Guild include a wool appliqué class in April and their annual Trunk Show. The Trunk Show will be held Friday, April 20 at the Watford City Civic Center and will feature a variety of wares from many of the Guild members.