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Inspired Giving - Quilts for Kids

The movie Pay it Forward made a huge impact on how I view the world and the part each of us plays in helping others.  The movie was inspiring in its simplicity - a movement where one person helps three people with the expectation that they would receive nothing in return.  However, the one wish the giver has is a simple request, that the person they helped in a time of need would help three more people when they have an opportunity thereby creating a ripple effect.

I live near Reading, Pennsylvania and the city was blessed with the gift of a Secret Santa this year. 

Nov 30, 2011 8:04pm

Anonymous ‘Secret Santa’ Brings Christmas Cheer, $100 Bills, to Poor Residents in Reading, Pa.

A businessman who identified himself only as “Secret Santa” brought Christmas cheer to Reading, Pa., one $100 bill at a time.

Reading has the highest poverty rate of cities across the nation in the 65,000 residents catagory - an estimated 90,000 people call Reading home.

The unnamed Good Samaritan Santa had read about the plight of Reading’s residents, and he spent Tuesday traversing the city and handing out cash to those he thought could use it.  According to the newspaper, the secret Santa gave away $20,000 cash, in bills stamped in red with the words “Secret Santa.” During his visit to the city, he was escorted by police.

The secret Santa explained that helping others helped him.  “I get more out of it than they do,” he said. “I’ve had people say, you know, ‘You saved my life. I was going to commit suicide.’ I’ve had people say, ‘I couldn’t pay my heat. … I hadn’t eaten in days,’” he said.

Another woman, in tears after receiving her gift, replied: “What an amazing man.”

These are the stories that inspire me, the possibility of making a difference in someone's life. 

I made my first quilt in 1996, a simple design of hearts, knotted because I didn't know how to machine quilt the top.  It was given with love to a 10-year-old girl who had been abused and it became her lifeline.  She later told me it was the one constant in her life, a source of consistent love moving from house to house.  When she lived in a house with no door on her bedroom, it became her door; when she lived in a house that wasn't clean, she pinned it to the ceiling so it wouldn't become dirty.  It traveled with her through the low times and into the good times and is a cherished keepsake at age 26 - her quilt of hearts - a gift from my heart to hers. 

When I joined a guild in 2000 and truly began the processing of learning how to create a quilt properly, I raised my hand to assist with the Charity Committee.  The guild, like so many others, created baby quilts each year for a hand-chosen agency in the Reading area to distribute to mothers in need.  This committee provided me with the perfect opportunity to practice the art of quilting.

The path I followed lead me to Quilts for Kids, a non-profit run by Linda Ayre in the Philadelphia area.  Linda is tireless in her efforts to raise money and utilize donated fabrics to create quilts for children in hospitals across the country.  Linda and I met while on vacation in the Caribbean - she was placed in my path, as I was placed in hers - a divine connection. 

You will see the Quilts for Kids logo on my quilt patterns indicating that a portion of the profit on each pattern is donated to Quilts for Kids.  Purchasing my designs creates a ripple effect of you - helping me - helping Linda - help children.   

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