When Cristol Johnson discovered quilting 13 years ago, she found a creative outlet that let her work with the designs and patterns she enjoys.
She also discovered that friends and relatives can only use so many quilts, so she decided to find another beneficiary.
In January, she took over the Augusta chapter of Quilts for Kids.
Through Quilts for Kids, volunteer quilters turn donated fabrics into quilts that are distributed to hospitalized children.
“I thought this was a wonderful opportunity to turn a hobby that I love into something useful,” Johnson said.
Because they’re donated to hospitals, quilts must be made of high-quality material, typically 100 percent cotton or high-quality flannel, and machine stitched and quilted in order to withstand multiple machine washings. Before they are donated, the quilts are laundered in either Dreft or Ivory detergent to decrease the risk of an allergic reaction.
Johnson has quilted or collected about 30 quilts so far and plans to take as many quilts as she can to the Children’s Hospital of Georgia in June.
If a donated quilt doesn’t meet the requirements, it will still be put to good use.
“If we get something that is not up to their standards – maybe there is some hand-stitching – we can use that in a shelter, like a shelter for abused women and children,” she said.
Johnson said sometimes quilters enjoy one aspect of the quilting process over another. She enjoys piecing and designing more than finishing the quilt, but she has met other quilters who either can’t or don’t like to cut the fabric into pieces. To make it easier for them to participate, she has assembled quilt kits with pre-cut pieces of fabric and the backing. Included in each kit is a label for quilters to sign their names.
Johnson said the coordinator at the Children’s Hospital of Georgia, Melody Wallace, told her there is always a need for the quilts and that the children love them.
“They are a great way to help brighten up what can typically be a really dreary hospital room,” said Wallace, who is also a child-life specialist. “The quilt is something that they know they’ll be able to take home with them.”
She said the hospital has worked with Quilts for Kids for years, and each year the organization donates about 100 quilts.
Johnson said more volunteers are needed to quilt blankets, and donations of supplies are always appreciated.
Johnson meets with donors on a case-by-case basis to pick up donations or drop off kits, but is working on finding a quilt shop willing to serve as a donation drop-off.
She would like to involve community groups such as schools or 4-H clubs and is open to ideas for ways to get more quilters involved.
Her goal is to one day donate quilts every month.
“One time at the hospital, I was told that (children) can’t bring in their stuffed animals because of allergies and such. You know kids, they love their blankets and stuffed animals,” she said.