Volunteers Create One of a Kind Gifts, One Stitch at a Time
Sharing a coffee and friendly conversation - it’s a weekly tradition for a group of Columbus Community Hospital volunteers. The group meets every Monday in the Sewing Suite on the hospital’s south campus.
They work together to create handmade items including quilts, receiving blankets, bibs and burp pads. Once finished, these items are sold in the Columbus Community Hospital Gift Shop.
“I find myself in awe of the craftsmanship of the volunteer-made items,” said Angie Ramaekers, director of Volunteer Services. “I am also awestruck by the precision of each item they make. While not mass-produced, each cut of fabric and every hand-placed stitch is done with a level of accuracy that is unmatched.”
Aleta Heins and Sandy McCumber are two of these volunteers. Aleta is a former nurse at the hospital who has been taking part in this tradition for 17 years.
“I worked at the hospital as a nurse for 40 years,” Heins said. “I retired in 2001 and started coming here. I had never quilted before, but I thought I would give it a try.”
McCumber has been living in Columbus for 11 years. She’s been volunteering in the Sewing Suite for 10 years
“When I moved here, I thought ‘I have to look beyond myself and do something for others’ so that’s why I’m here,” McCumber said.
Both women say they enjoy creating one of a kind gifts, but the main reason they return each week is to visit with the many friends they have made along the way.
“I love my ladies here,” McCumber said. “I really like the camaraderie. That’s what keeps me coming back.”
Priceless Handmade Quilts
One popular item the dedicated volunteers create are handmade quilts.
From Raggedy Ann to John Deere, the group designs and constructs each quilt using small pieces of fabric. Depending on the complexity of the design, each creation takes weeks or even months to complete.
“I don’t think people realize how long it takes to make them,” Heins said, “But seeing the finished product is really something.”
Once complete, the handmade quilts are placed on the Gift Shop’s shelves - that is if they make it there.
“Some of them get sold before we even get them done. I bought one when my granddaughter was going to have a baby,” Heins said.
When the quilts make it to the shelves, they are sold for $40 to $50 each. However, for many families, they are priceless.
“Our handmade baby items and towels are a great source of pride for us in the Gift Shop,” said Vicki Forsberg, manager of the Gift Shop.
“Customers come back repeatedly to purchase items for baby gifts, shower gifts, hostess gifts. They always say ‘These handmade items make the best gifts’ and we agree.”
In 2017, the group gave nearly 3,900 hours of volunteer service. More than 500 handmade items were sold at the Gift Shop in 2017, including:
• Quilted Quilts: 6
• Tied Quilts: 26
• Receiving Blankets: 43
• Bibs: 74
• Burp Pads: 126
• Crocheted Kitchen Towels: 206
• Embroidered Kitchen Towels: 28
• Doll Quilt/Pillow: 9