Annual blessing of the quilts held at Christ Lutheran Church
Christ Lutheran Church was full of love and compassion for the art of quilting Monday morning as 300 handmade quilts from the Cape Coral Quilters Guild were blessed, so they could be donated to eight organizations in Cape Coral.
The blessing of the quilts began 15 years ago after one of the members of the guild asked what she could do with 25 quilts that she made. Mary Ann McCarthy, founder of the Cape Coral Quilter’s Guild, said from there the event has continued every year with at least 200 quilts being blessed and donated.
Quilts of all colors and sizes were draped on many pews during the blessing ceremony with Christ Lutheran Church Lead Pastor Gary LaCroix. He began the ceremony by telling the group of women that he was amazed by the amount of energy that filled the room.
LaCroix said it is a true blessing that the members of the guild created pieces of art from scrap material that will benefit many individuals.
Aleta DiPaolo, a guild member, said that the quilts are all “bright and cheerful and laced and sewed with prayers and good wishes.”
“These women are giving a piece of their heart,” she said smiling.
Once the blessing was over, individuals from various organizations shared a few emotional words to the guild that highlighted how individuals felt after they were given one of the many donated quilts and how much of a blessing the guild is for creating the quilts.
Five guild members were also called to the front of the church Monday morning as bags were handed to them that contained a quilt made by other members for their loved ones.
McCarthy accepted a quilt on behalf of an 11-year-old student who attends Skyline Elementary School. She told the group of women that the young 5th grade girl recently lost her mom, who was 42 years old and a single parent. On Thursday she will receive her second quilt from the guild, the first one was donated to her when she was in the Head Start Program.
President Carol Melvin said the group of women create the quilts by using donated fabric over the course of the year. Every Monday, she said members come together to either create a quilt together or work on their own individual quilt for about four or five hours.
Last year, DiPaolo made 75 stockings for soldiers who are in Iraq and Afghanistan, a program the guild began last year. She said she enjoyed creating the stockings because it provides the soldiers with “a little bit of home” that is full of things that they need.
McCarthy said the guild created 328 stockings for the soldiers.
The front row of a pew Monday morning had 219 stockings displayed during the blessing that will be sent to soldiers in October. Melvin said that number will most likely grow as members bring in more stockings.
“I still can’t get over this,” DiPaolo said about the rows of stockings.
A quilt was also donated to the new veterans museum, which will most likely be hung in the lobby once the new location opens.
Melvin said they also have quilts on reserve for when the veterans hospital opens, so they can honor the veterans who are coming back home to Cape Coral.
Melvin said she enjoys the annual blessing because she can see what they accomplished throughout the year.
“We have accomplished so much and we give them away,” she said. “Every year we are blown away from what we accomplished.”
DiPaolo said she enjoys the annual blessing because she can see the combination of work that has been done in a year.
“You see every range of skill,” she said. “There is an enormous amount of work that goes into these things.”
McCarthy said the guild began in October 1994 due to her wanting to learn how to quilt and share knowledge with others. She said it was formed with 15 women, four of which are still members, who loved quilting and sharing what they know with others.
Now, McCarthy said the Cape Coral Quilter’s Guild has 93 members after 17 years.
“I’m proud of this group,” she said through teary eyes.
McCarthy said she has enjoyed the deep friendships of the sisterhood that has grown over the years.
The Cape Coral Police Department, Lee Memorial Progressive Care/Vascular Acess Nursing, Hope Hospice of Cape Coral, Juniper Village Retirement Home, Windsor Retirement Home, Rehabilitation & Health Care Center of Cape Coral, Coral Trace Retirement Home and Gulf Coast Village were all recipients of quilts that the Cape Coral Quilters Guild handmade.
“There are so many agencies in Cape Coral that need help,” McCarthy said.
She said although everything the guild creates stays in the community, it does not give to the same organizations every year.
After the quilts were placed in bags to go to their designated organizations, the members of the guild enjoyed tea and lunch together.