A project that has thoroughly blessed the community began with an offer of some unused fabric that needed a new home.
When Loney Hudson’s brother asked her if she had any use for the fabric, she said no. She didn’t quilt or sew. But she thought a lady up the road might want it, so she took it.
That led to an invitation for coffee and some discussion. They’d heard about the local nursing home needing some sort of covering for the laps of residents. Traditional blankets were too big and got caught in wheelchair wheels; towels were too small.
‘You know, we could make some nice quilts to sell or give away,’ was the consensus, and so they did.
This was the summer of 2021, in the Parish of Kent. Since then, the group of two has grown to include both parish and community members, and has produced dozens of lap quilts for residents of nearby nursing homes, all as gifts, no strings attached.
Lap quilts are small and fit just as the name suggests, on the lap to keep the chill away — the perfect gift for seniors.
“The nursing home in Rexton has 30 residents, so we committed to making 30 lap quilts,” said Loney. “We invited anyone who wanted to help. We got four or five others and we finished the 30 quilts.”
The response was wonderful.
“We took them in, and it was so nice to give them to the residents,” she said. “They appreciated it so much.”
Their next project was for 25 lap quilts to go to some of the 60 residents of The Villa in St. Louis.
“In the meantime, we started getting requests from people not in homes,” she said. “So we ended up making a few more to give away.”
They completed the 25 lap quilts, but the staff liked them so much, they asked for the balance — 35 more so that every resident would have one.
“We completed this over the summer,” said Loney, adding 2023 was the third summer for the project.
The project has the blessing of the vestry, which gave the go-ahead to use the hall for their quilting. But since the hall is closed up during the winter, quilting has been a seasonal project.
“I used to quilt with my mother when I was a teenager,” said Loney, who had not quilted again until the lap quilt project began.
Some ladies use a machine, but many, like Loney, work on them by hand, both at home and as a group.
“When we get together, it’s a great time to chat. It’s been a real chance to actually take the time to sit and catch up,” she said.
“When I’m doing my quilting alone, I sit and pray for the person who is going to get the quilt, that it will be a blessing and a comfort to them.”
She worked on one that she and the parish ended up presenting to the Rev. Bruce Glencross, honorary assistant in the parish, who went through cancer treatments last spring.
The original fabric has long since run out, but donations of material continue to come in. Since they don’t sell the quilts, there is no revenue generated, but people have been generous.
What they seem to run out of is thread and backing material — flannel only, so the quilts won’t slip off the lap.
The Villa donated three large boxes of old flannel johnny shirts which the quilters took apart to use as backing.
“It takes two gowns to make one backing,” said Loney.
For this winter, the group has found space at the local community centre so they can continue their work. As the word gets out, they become busier and waiting until spring is not an option.
The group’s reputation is spreading. They were approached by The Humanity Project in Moncton, which is building and equipping tiny homes for the homeless. They need single quilts for the beds, so the group has committed to making four.
“When we finish those, we’ll see if we’re up for any more,” she said.
The quilting group sprang from an idea and a donation, and they don’t even have a name, but they’ve been a big blessing, not only to the recipients, but to the community as well.
Laura Ketch, married to the Rev. Chris Ketch, the incumbent in the parish, is a long-time quilter. The high school teacher has been with the project over the three summers.
“I love to help out the community,” she said. "I’m a city girl really, and awed by the sense of community in rural areas. Everybody knows everybody and the word gets out.
“Seeing everyone step up to care for each other is so heartwarming. We’re able to see just how wonderful that sense of community is. People think of rural areas as isolating, but it’s just the opposite.”
“It’s a very disorganized affair, but we manage to get things done,” said Loney. “It’s turned out to be quite an outreach project for us — a parish project and a community project.
“People like the fact that we’re doing something without getting paid. For the church and our group, it’s a way to serve people who need a bit of extra love and care.”
Chris’s mantra is, ‘if we closed our doors, would the community notice.’ In the Parish of Kent, the answer is yes!
1. Lap quilts getting a good airing before delivery to a local nursing home.
2. Some of the quilters with their work: Aura Scully, Christina Gwendolyn Crandall, Elaine Bona and Loney Hudson.
3. Allison Beers, a member of the Parish of Kent, and now a resident at The Villa, one of the nursing homes that received lap quilts.
All photos submitted