I like the way quilts feel and the way they look. They just emit comfort. Our quilts even extend to our guest room. I think I’ve always had bedcovers of quilts.
Handmade quilts have a personal touch. There’s just something about creating with sewing. Our daughter-in-law, Wendy, grew up with a mother who sews, as did my wife, Peggy. Moms who sew for their families, whether school uniforms, prom dresses, shorts, shirts, church clothes, suits, in fact all kinds of clothing as well as quilts, all mean that there is love in between them. Both Peg and Wendy wore wedding dresses handmade by their mothers. Not everyone has a mother who sews, however. I didn’t. People who sew put more into clothes and quilts than just material and stitches.
Elizabeth Thomas of “Helping Hand, Loving Hearts” says, “I sew a piece of my heart into everything I make.” I believe it. Elizabeth learned to sew at an early age. By high school she had made her first quilt and was designing and creating her own clothes. Elizabeth’s love of creating and sewing led her to Oregon State University where she earned a BS degree in Clothing & Textiles/Fashion Design. She worked for 10 years at Daisy Kingdom, a creative fabric store in Portland, Oregon.
The Thomas family, Elizabeth, husband David, and their daughter Rebecca were involved with their church in helping the community. While in Junior High, she accepted a community service project, and approached her mom and asked about making and donating a quilt for a child. They contacted a local Project Linus group. If you immediately pictured Linus and his blanket from the comic pages of “Peanuts,” you are just like me. Project Linus provides new, handmade blankets and afghans, to children who need love, a sense of security, warmth and comfort. Elizabeth and Rebecca connected. After ten years of sewing and donating quilts they’ve given away five hundred quilts to children in local hospitals and foster care.
Husband David, a member of the US Army Reserves was deployed to Bosnia (2003) and then to Kosovo (2007). As a dentist he went out into the Kosovo community to give humanitarian dental care. He saw families in need of many things. David wrote Elizabeth and Rebecca asking if they could knit some warm hats for the children. During David’s six-month deployment, mother and daughter knit 80 hats and organized school supplies, shoes, and clothing donations. The Thomas’ church and Rebecca’s high school all took part.
In 2014 Elizabeth and Rebecca formed “Helping Hands, Loving Hearts” a sewing group for community service. At the first meeting five women came to help. The group now has twenty plus members. Everything this group sews is given back to the community. At each meeting they focus on a specific project.
Projects range from baby items for a teen moms’ clinic to dog & cat beds for an animal rescue center, walker bags and lap robes for elder care, various projects for Special Olympics athletes, fleece and knitted hats for our homeless neighbors and cute pillowcases, quilts and fleece blankets for foster kids/teens. Every year the group sews and decorates 300 Christmas stockings for a Santa party for foster kids.
In the past 5 years “Helping Hands, Loving Hearts” SEW for Community Service Group has sewn and donated more than 15,000 items which have been distributed to various organizations in the Puget Sound WA area for distribution to those in need. Elizabeth says “We love getting together every month with this awesome group of women who love to sew and give service to the community. Many of the women in our group are retired or widows. They love having a place to come where they can make new friends and are able to feel needed and to contribute by giving service doing something they love to do, SEW ! As my daughter Rebecca and I deliver these lovingly made items to the various groups we donate to, our hearts are full. We have met some wonderful people who sincerely thank our SEW group for their efforts. It just makes us want to go out and sew lots more things to give!”
This hard-working community group also reached out to help the families in Paradise, California after the devastating fires of 2018. Working together, in a short amount of time right before Christmas the sewing group created ten quilts which were distributed through JustServe.org with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and The Salvation Army in Chico, CA.
Elizabeth says, “All foster kid donations are given to The Wishing Well, (non-profit) clothing bank for foster kids/teens in Pierce County. In 2018 our SEW group made and donated 650 pillowcases, 300 Christmas stockings and 50 quilts.” I can just imagine a child receiving their very own quilt. It would be something to keep them warm and a constant reminder that people care.
“Helping Hands, Loving Hearts” SEW for Community Service Group welcomes new members. We need lots of “helping hands” to make our projects “happen”. Come SEW with us, make new friends and give some community service. “By small and simple things, great things come to pass . . . one stitch at a time”, thanks to all our volunteers.
If you would like more information about the “Helping Hands, Loving Hearts” SEW Group, please contact Elizabeth Thomas at (253) 224-2756 or visit the Just Serve community website. – JustServe.org.