Friday, May 16, 2008

NBC, Delta Airlines and a Quilt for Every Sick Child's Bed

It's 99º in Salem, Oregon today and at least 105º in my sewing room. I have been busy working on a colorful scrap quilt to donate in honor of a sick child who might be comforted by softness and cheered by the interesting bits and pieces of pattern and print.

What should I hear on the NBC evening news with Brian Williams but the "Making a Difference" story for the day about Delta Airlines and it's amazing quilts for ill children program!

As Brian said, when we think of airlines blankets we think of fuzzy, overused airlines blanket, not homemade quilts. Yet for the last 8 years, Delta Airlines employees and volunteers have been sewing homemade quilts and blankets for sick children in the Salt Lake City "Primary Children's Medical Center."

In 2000, a Salt Lake City based flight attendant, named Cindy Atkinson, recruited other flight attendants to help her create quilts. She brought in her grandmother's quilting frame and volunteers would add a stitch or two in their spare time. Flight attendants loved the idea, and loved the stitching. Soon, they had made and donated a few hundred quilts.

What they began has now spread throughout Delta Airlines. From Delta pilots, to ground crews, to ticket agents to the flight attendants, hundred of employees are stitching away...during breaks at work, during lay overs, or at home.

As one of the quilters, Brenda Richards, says, she retired from flying after 38 years with Delta, but not from quilting. And she adds "One time my granddaughter had surgery at the hospital and she came out from surgery, and she was wrapped in a Delta quilt!" Richards says. "I'm in it for the duration now."

As we all know, our quilts have "special healing properties", and now it appears the hospital staff are beginning to agree. "That quilt is like medicine that you cant get from a bottle," says Sharon Goodrich, director of annual and corporate giving at Primary Children's Medical Center. With the help of Delta Airlines, the hospital promises a handmade quilt for every child's bed. This year, the volunteers produced a record 2,300 quilts and blankets.

I think they are fulfilling that promise, just as each of us does her best to fulfill in each of our own ways!

My own "99 to 105" child's quilt in progress.