The Mesa PD Family Advocacy Center is one of the many recipients of handmade quilts from AZ Blankets for Kids. The quilts are distributed to "traumatized and seriously ill children in the Phoenix metro area," said AZ Blankets for Kids President Letty Fowell. "Nothing goes outside our area."
Started in 2001, AZ Blankets for Kids has given away 124,281 quilts as of Oct 31, 2019. From fiscal year Nov 1, 2018, to Oct 31, 2019, the distribution team donated 8,662 quilts.
It's a big operation with all volunteers. Not one person is paid. There's no office. No warehouse. Every member on the board works out of their home and stores quilts in their homes. A distribution team, made up of about six ladies, delivers the quilts, each one made with a different pattern.
It's hard to say how long each one takes to make. The organization has 16 members on the board and each one is in charge of a different part of the quilt. (Not one person does an entire quilt from start to finish.)
The "Sewing Bee" - open to the public - is comprised of 35 sewing groups. Each person brings a sewing machine and gets-together in their groups and donates the quilts they make. More people participate in the winter months. In the summer it's quiet but there are places that quilt year-round.
"It takes a long time to put a quilt together because there's the cutting of it, sewing the top back together to the design of the pattern, and then there's layering where you have to find a backing for that quilt and put in the batting in between and so on," explained Fowell.
Each person does something different and takes measures to make sure the stitching, etc. are safe for children.
Fowell enjoys doing the bindings which are the last step of the quilt-making process. "After it's checked over for pins and things, it's ready to go. And it has one of our labels on it."
Due to the privacy act and the protection of the children, the group doesn't have pictures of the kids and their quilts but once in a while, they'll get feedback from a parent.
"We have a place on Facebook where we give credit to the different places we take our quilts and whoever delivers them takes a picture of the people and the quilts so we know where they're going and what's happening to them," said Fowell.
She recalls a story where "a 5-year-old boy was brought into an agency one night with just the clothes on his back. The next morning, he was taken to pick out a quilt. (Some places give the quilts to the kids. Some places let kids pick them out.) This place had a plain purple and brown quilt that was there for several months and it kept getting shoved to the back of the pile because it wasn't as cute as some of the other ones. So, this little boy went in there and picked that quilt. He said, 'That's the one I want.' One of the ladies asked him, 'How come you picked that quilt for your very own to keep forever and ever?' And the boy said, 'Well, it reminds me of peanut butter and jelly.'"
Fowell recalls another story from several years ago where "a little boy was mauled by a pit bull. He ended up having six surgeries and when doctors completed the last surgery, they took a picture of him. It was in one of the papers and it was him sitting on the hospital bed with his quilt wrapped around him and our label was right in front. That makes me feel so good!"
AZ Blankets for Kids is a non-profit organization and accepts the AZ tax credit. Couples can donate $800; singles $400. You can use it as a write-off on taxes and its dollar-for-dollar. It's only through the tax credit plus donations of fabric and grants they're able to do what they do.
"It's a unique group of ladies (of all ages)," Fowell said. "They all have a heart of gold. When we get-together for a bee and something needs to be done, everybody chips in and it gets taken care of. It's wonderful."
Voicemail Phone: 480-283-8746
AZ Blankets 4 Kids
P.O. Box 13385
Mesa, AZ 85216-3385