Joy sewed into a quilt: local quilt guild makes the community a better place

Photo Provided Dolls, toys and miniature quilts donated to the Firemen’s Cheer Fund in 2021 by the Columbus Star Quilt Guild.

In addition to quilting, many quilters have another passion: Using their craft to make the world a better place. Regarding their passion for quilting, they love to talk shop about fabrics and patterns. They even organize trips to fabric shops in other locales just to stay on top of what’s out there. However, their other passion manifests itself in brightening the lives of foster kids, military veterans, domestic violence survivors and newborns.

The Columbus Star Quilt Guild, which meets the first Thursday morning of each month in the Fellowship Hall of First Baptist Church, was founded in 1983 with the mission of increasing community awareness of the craft and what can be done with it. Since its inception, the guild has shown the community the possibilities are endless.

The current president, Susannah Lipinski, has been involved with the guild since 2001. Her daughter was given a quilt while being treated at Riley Children’s Hospital in Indianapolis, and she initiated a push in the guild to send quilts there.

In 2008, the guild donated quilts to Columbus flood victims.

“That’s when we started finding organizations we could donate to regularly,” said Lipinski.

Presently, newborns being cared for by Clarity of South Central Indiana receive the group’s quilts. Clarity is a ministry that, as its website states: “Is a culture where every human life is valued and celebrated as a gift from God.”

Turning Point, Columbus’ domestic violence shelter, gets pillowcases and occasionally play- mats.

The guild also provides quilts to the Cancer Care Center at Columbus Regional Hospital.

“A lot of patients get really cold during chemotherapy,” said Lipinski. “They get to keep our quilts and bring them to treatment sessions.”

The group also donates quilts and toys to the Firemen’s Cheer Fund.

One charity that is special to a lot of guild members is Beloved Bags, which puts together kits for children entering the foster care system. When those youngsters leave their homes, they are starting new lives and unable to take anything that had been theirs.

“These are our most vulnerable citizens,” said Beloved’s executive director, Amy Linneman. “There’s a feeling that they get what’s left over. Quilts from the guild are tangible affirmation of their dignity. We can give them something that was made by hand with care. It’s a wonderful way to wrap them in the care of the community.”

The Evening Star Quilt Guild is an offshoot of the morning group. It meets on the second Tuesday of each month at Mill Race Center. Since Mill Race has a program for military veterans, the evening guild was inspired to provide quilts to that demographic.

“In November, we gather up what members have made and hold a drawing,” said Kathy AmRhein, president. “The guys come in and pick out a quilt. The quilts have a patriotic theme and come with thank-you cards.”

AmRheim said a lot of bonding takes place within the guild and lasting friendships are formed. Last holiday season, the evening guild donated 75 stockings to Turning Point.

“For me, it’s about the value of the relationships,” she said. “Most of us have an addiction to fabric, so we have to think of things to do with it. Quilting can be used to make table runners, wall hangings, bowl cozies and Christmas stockings.”

At a recent retreat for evening guild members, the meeting room downstairs in the Columbus Municipal Airport terminal was filled with quilters hovering over sewing machines. Retreats are three-day opportunities for members to put aside all life’s obligations and distractions and focus on projects and bask in each other’s company.

Many members of both guilds get fabric from Sew Crazy, an east side store that does its own share of giving, as well.

“We donate pillowcase dresses for girls and shorts for little boys to Samaritan’s Purse,” said proprietor Angie Behrman. “Last year, we provided 140 pairs of shorts and over 450 dresses. They go to third-world countries.”

Behrman said that at Christmas time, her store and friends host dinners for needy children. Last year, the dinner was held at Taylorsville Elementary School, and this year’s will convene at Clifty and Fodrea.

“There will be a visit from Santa, and hopefully YES Cinema will host a movie,” said Behrman.

In past years, Sew Crazy donated hygiene products and school supplies, in addition to quilts and pillowcases. This year, to promote family cohesiveness in children’s homes, the store is donating board games and popcorn poppers. Behrman said that guild members have stepped up to the occasion.

“Before we got our long-arm sewing machine, we needed help, and the quilters jumped in.”

Behrman noted that quilters tend to be older, and to continue passing the craft on, she mentors high school students who choose sewing as a senior project. She also conducts classes at the store.

Quilt making and the bringing of joy to lives beset by misfortune seem to go hand in hand.

“Quilters are some of the most generous people I know,” said AmRheim. “Giving to the community is just an extension of that. A quilt is something you wrap yourself in that makes you feel loved.”