Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

'A Quilt Is a Warm Hug,' Guild Member Says

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

'A Quilt Is a Warm Hug,' Guild Member Says

Article excerpt

Byline: Mary Maraghy, County Line staff writer

They shop and hoard fabric. They have all-night quilting parties in their pajamas. They gab and eat lots of chocolate.

"Food is always involved," said Tracy Russin, one of the newer members the 20-year-old First Coast Quilters Guild of Orange Park. "It's a ball. It's like a quilting Red Hat Society."

(The Red Hat Society is a girls-just-wanna-have-fun-type social club for women 50 and older.)

However the 58 guild members -- novices to expert quilters -- range in age from 20 to 80, from homemakers to aviation engineers. They have yet to have a man join, though.

Guild members make and donate quilts or send cash donations to many non-profit organizations including Quigley House, Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranch, Community Hospice of Northeast Florida and Ronald McDonald House. Next year, they plan to sew quilts for a ward at Wolfson Children's Hospital.

This month, in honor of Valentine's Day, the guild is making a love donation to the Seamark Ranch, a home for abused and neglected children scheduled to open by 2006 in Clay County west of Penney Farms. Guild members are providing quilts for each of the homes' beds.

Hugh Mathews, vice chairman of Seamark's board of directors, said he's excited and grateful for the handmade gifts for the home's future residents.

"The quilts will be a demonstration of the love and warmth Seamark will bring to them," he said.

"It's [Seamark Ranch] new, and it seemed like no one was helping them," said veteran quilter and retiree Jackie Mooneyham. "A quilt is a warm hug, and it represents our love."

Guild members said quilting also represents an outlet for vast creativity. Today they use fabric paints, stamps, dyes, crayons and leaves to make not only traditional bed coverings but also purses, jackets, vests, wallets, place mats, eyeglass cases and more. …

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