It appears that Freedom Quilting may never end.
The volunteer organization created by Betty Nielsen of Fonda to make keepsake quilts for the families of 9/11 victims and later for families of soldiers lost in the war on terrorism, has found a new mission.
Nielsen has visited flood-ravaged Cedar Rapids, and now plans to produce quilts for each family that has lost a home - some 5,400 in that city alone.
"It was devastating to see it - help has not been received," the volunteer leader told the Pilot-Tribune this week. "We have already been contacted by a few families."
Freedom Quilters, which pumped out over 5,000 quilts in the wake of the terrorist attacks, is looking to ramp production back up to full speed.
"We have to make sure we have a fair amount of quilts done. Then we will go back and work with the city officials, churches and so on to set up an event to give out the quilts in person," Nielsen said.
It will mark the beginning of a new direction for the volunteer program.
"We will still need to set aside quilts for each fallen soldier for as long as necessary," she said. "But I think we will evolve into responding to devastation - floods, tornadoes. That's kind of where we are - unfortunately, there will always be people facing tragedy somewhere."
"I know I am asking a lot here, but remember - when you reach out to comfort others, someday it may be you in need of comforting."
Nielsen and her husband leave for New York today to be filmed for a documentary that will explore the impact of American volunteerism.
"We have no idea what form this film will take or where it will be shown, but we do hope it gets more people interested in service," she said. "The demand is so great - there is so much need in this world right now."
Freedom Quilt Needs:
* Quilting volunteers
* Quilts people might like to donate in any size and design
* Donations and assistance with materials.
* Anyone who would like to help may contact Nielsen at 712-288-5328; write to Freedom Quilters, 13637 550th Street, Fonda, 50540; or see www.freedomquilts.com