Cathie Gibbons looked at the dozens of bed sheets before her, which seemed to just keep rolling in from every facet of her church.
“We use clean sheets for quilt backings and at one point about a year ago, we ran out,” she said. “I reached out to the [Christ the King Lutheran Church] community for donations and it was like the feeding of the 5,000. I have so many backings — I don’t think I’ll need more for years.”
Gibbons, who heads a quilting group at the church — an offshoot of Christ the King’s women’s group — laughed as she recalled the story, one of many she has from the years she has spent sewing quilts that are sent to needy men, women and children around the world.
The local group, which produced 154 quilts last year, was started in 1994 when the north Forsyth church was built and, prior to Gibbons heading the group, met about two times per year.
“When I took over the group several years ago, we started meeting monthly,” Gibbons said. “We deliver the finished quilts to a Lutheran church in Lilburn, and from there, they’re distributed throughout the world. A few years ago, they started a tracking system to track where the quilts go. One shipment went to Haiti and in January, a bunch were sent to India. I think 346,000 quilts were sent worldwide last year as part of Lutheran World Relief.”
In addition to sending the quilts overseas, the quilters gave 14 to local organization Family Promise, which helps homeless families in Forsyth County.
The group, Gibbons said, is able to produce so many quilts annually thanks to a core group of women that show up monthly.
“Our core group ranges from six to 12 women monthly, and in January and July we have a three-day quilting boot camp, which brings in anywhere from 20 to 30 participants in total,” she said. “Some come for an hour, some stay all day every day, but it’s [comradery] and we like to help.”
Gibbons added aside from doing good for others, the women enjoy the time with one another and the sense of community the projects help foster.
“We like to help — it’s such a warm feeling and the quilts are warm and fuzzy and you just know for these people [who receive them,] it’s all they have a lot of times,” she said. “They use the quilts as beds and walls and for holding their personal items and it’s just a wonderful thing. But also, we all love the comradery while knowing we’re doing something good at the same time.”
Christ the King also works with the Cumming Piecemakers Quilt Guild to produce the quilts, Gibbons said.
“Everybody’s just kind of helping each other, and it doesn’t feel like a job we have — it feels good and is something we all enjoy,” she said. “We’ve stopped setting goals for how many we can do per year, because it varies so much, so now we just say we’re just going to do what we can do and have a good time doing it.”
The quilters rely on donations for their materials, though the group donates some of their own money to help ship the quilts worldwide, which costs about $2 per quilt.
Quilting materials — fabric or clean flat sheets — are always appreciated, though, Gibbons said, and can be donated to the north Forsyth church, located at 1125 Bettis Tribble Gap Road in Cumming. The items can be dropped at the church’s office.