This photo essay is part of “We Are the Change,” a series telling the stories of local causes. View all the “We Are the Change” essays.
The Mid Valley Quilt Guild comprises more than 350 members who gather from across the region to share a hobby with friends — and to keep quilting alive as a community art form. But their creations aren’t only going to their own friends and families.
Every year, guild members produce between 400 and 500 quilts that they give to at least 40 local nonprofits. These “comfort quilts” go to a wide array of people who can benefit from the blankets’ comfort and warmth, says Linda Doerfler, the guild’s chairperson for new members and small groups.
Recipients have included women at a local crisis center who fled unfortunate circumstances with only the clothing on their backs, children who were victims of abuse and sought a memento to make them feel loved and safe, hospice patients looking to stay warm in their last days, and babies in the neonatal units of local hospitals.
The quilters often use patriotic designs and colors in their creations — in recent months, they donated these to troops who were being deployed to Afghanistan and to several organizations for distribution to veterans.
They also make hundreds of pillowcases each year for children in foster care as well as women in crisis centers.
The entire guild meets monthly at the Salem Scottish Rite Center; these meetings often feature guest speakers and big project planning. Members also meet in one or more sub-groups — there are 30 total — to work on more specific projects, including the comfort quilts.
Because other organizations actually distribute the quilts, the quilters rarely know the identity of those who receive the blankets. “We hear stories through the grapevine of appreciation for our efforts,” Doerfler says. “But we each get our own comfort from the construction of the quilts and knowing they will be loved and cherished.”
Contact the Mid Valley Quilt Guild
Bob Gersztyn has documented more than a thousand events — from church services to weddings to rock concerts — since becoming a freelance photographer in 1974. He has published numerous photos and articles and has two blogs: one dedicated to his book, Jesus Rocks the World, and the other chronicling his former taxi-driving career.