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Donated fabric turned into hundreds of quilts for children in need

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Dave Scharett remembers it well: an elderly widow, Doris, an accomplished seamstress and quilt maker who often had made gifts for the children in her neighborhood, donated more than $1,000 worth of fabric to the Society of St. Vincent de Paul St. Faustina Conference. The cloth was put into storage and remained there for more than a year.


It occurred to Scharett, president of the conference that serves both the areas of St. Matthew Church in Spotsylvania and St. Patrick Church in Fredericksburg, that the conference should find seamstresses who could turn the mound of material into quilts. For three weekends in a row, Scharett carted tubs of cloth in the back of his truck to show to parishioners at St. Matthew before and after Masses. Several people took some cloth, among them Cathe DeVito, who took three tubs and then asked if she could use the parish center for a series of sewing bees.


The ladies of St. Matthew answered DeVito’s call and showed up with their sewing machines week after week. Many brought their own material and continued to spend their time and skill in measuring, cutting, ironing, pinning and stitching. Eighteen people, over the course of eight sessions, arrived ready to work on individual quilts. The women made kits based on the patterns so they could take the quilts home and work between sessions.


Debby Busby, coordinator of a local chapter of Project Linus, a nonprofit organization that provides handmade blankets for children in need, attended the quilt meeting and helped with the process, teaching first-timers the skills. In the end, the group created more than 220 quilts of different patterns and seasonal designs, including some small ones intended as doll blankets.


The quilts will be given to children through the conference's annual Christmas giving program, Santa’s Sack, which typically provides gifts to about 200 children in need.


“This quilt activity fulfilled the spirit that is at St. Matthew Church; that is, the people have huge hearts,” said DeVito. “I asked, and people answered.”


© Arlington Catholic Herald 2021