Members of the Varina Quilters were treated to a reception honoring their charitable efforts Saturday afternoon in Storm Lake, and members of the public were treated to a special viewing of many of the colorful quilts which will soon make their way to comfort people who were tragically affected by the events of September 11.
The reception, which took place at the Witter Gallery in Storm Lake, gave local citizens an opportunity to see, touch and feel the hand-tied, hand-stitched and machine-sewn quilts on an up-close level, and were also able to talk with many of the quilters at the event.
The Varina Quilters have already sent 1,554 quilts to New York City, and Betty Nielsen, the head of the group, said that figure is only a portion of the number of quilts the organization wants to sew over the course of 2002.
"The number that we've sent isn't nearly enough, and I think we will be making at least 2,500 more quilts for people," Nielsen said. "I've received so many stories from people who have said the quilts are comforting to them, and stories like that are reason enough to keep on going as long as we can."
Quilts displayed at the reception featured a variety of patterns and designs, and were also emblazoned with names of people from Australia to Arkansas, representative of the worldwide effort that the campaign has become.
"There's been a real interest in this from so many people," quilter Mavis Schumann said. "It's really become a worldwide effort. That is what has made this so much fun. This isn't just an effort from us in Varina, but it's become an effort from people all over the country and the world."
The effort started with a core group of about 23 to 25 quilters who began meeting three times a week at the Columbkille Parish Hall in Varina, and quickly turned into a nationally-known campaign, culminating in an appearance on "Good Morning America" during their recent trip to New York City.
"It's really been a great effort from everyone," quilter Judy Doyel said. "We meet from 1 to 5, but it has become an around-the-clock effort for some people. We're all volunteers, and we think this is something that is important for us to do and continue to do in the future."