Netroots Nation is about more than panels, workshops, speeches, and meeting friends. From the beginning, it has always had an element of service, too. Service lifts hearts and brings people together in really good ways. So with that in mind, I'd like to propose a concrete project for the DK Quilt Guild. Shall we make thirty-five wheelchair quilts for the veterans in the Spinal Cord Injury/Disability unit ("SCI/D") of the Palo Alto VA Medical Center (the VA hospital nearest San Jose) to be delivered at NN13?
I have been in contact with the volunteer/donor office of this hospital and learned that a) the hospital will be absolutely delighted to have these quilts and b) a total of thirty-five of them will ensure that every veteran in the SCI/D unit as of June will have one. At llbear's suggestion, I proposed that these quilts would have a pocket or two on the underside big enough to hold personal items -- and that when the quilts are delivered, we will put in a pocket of each quilt a small teddy bear. The reason for the teddy bear is that a lot of vets have small children in their lives and this will give them something with which to play with them or to give as a gift. The response to these ideas at the VA was wholly positive.
I know from past experience visiting the VA Hospital in Long Beach, CA which has a large SCI/D unit, that quilts are much better than afghans for wheel chairs because knitted or crocheted items can become tangled in the gears. A good size is 36" x 60" -- the quilt should not be too wide so it fits securely without getting in the wheels and long enough to cover the legs. Bright colors are prized -- the veterans I met liked orange blankets in particular!
A 36" x 60" quilt is not a large project. It's fifteen to eighteen blocks. So it is pretty quick to make -- and it is narrow enough that you don't have to piece a backing for it. If you piece but don't quilt, you can design one of these to be tied. If you quilt but don't piece, you might pair up with a guild member who pieces!
If you would like to join in this project, here are a few guidelines.
1. Please pre-wash your fabric and make sure it won't bleed before you sew.
2. You can use any batting you like but since these are going to a hospital, some sort of polyester (so washable!) is probably best.
3. A pattern for the pockets will be provided in a future diary. If you don't want to make the pockets yourself, we can put them on your quilt(s) for you.
4. Before you put on a label, let's come up with some standard wording -- but you should definitely put your name on the quilt(s) you've made for this project if you want to!
5. Absolutely avoid religious images -- you don't know what faith (if any) a veteran holds -- and the VA is very protective of the vets in this regard. The VA makes it very clear that all religious care at the hospital is in the hands of the VA Chaplains -- and only the VA Chaplains. With that said, do put positive thoughts for the veterans' well-being into your work!
6. It is possible that some of the veterans in the unit are women -- so some of the quilts should be suitable for them.
Ann and I volunteer to accept delivery of the quilts and bring them down to San Jose. I'd like to photograph each one and share them with the whole group as they are completed with periodic diaries. Ann and I are donating the five quilts pictured herein -- so there are only thirty left to go!
If you decide to participate, you'll be making a very special, personal gift for a person who has sacrificed much for our country and who is facing the painful challenges of immobility. You will also brighten the spirit of a whole unit in a VA Hospital -- and that is no small thing. Are you in? Let's discuss!
QUILTING VOLUNTEERS SO FAR
kitchen table activist
Carol in San Antonio
Pam from Calif