Making quilts to support cancer patients

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For a cancer patient enduring the arduous trials and tribulations of treatment, a little warmth and comfort can go a long ways.

A group of about 20 seamstresses from Sundre and James River recently got together at the local legion to put together quilts destined for someone suffering from cancer.

“We send quilts all across Alberta, and even across Canada,” said Darlene Gulka, who founded the Victoria’s Quilts Canada Sundre Chapter 28 about five years ago.

“We have never stopped (since),” she said.

The Sundre Legion, which was made available to the group at no cost, was a busy place with numerous sewing machines humming away on Friday, Jan. 27 when the group got to work on 20 quilts. Although eight were actually completed that day, the rest were expected to be finished by the end of last week, she said.

When both her sister and a close friend from Sundre were diagnosed with cancer during Christmastime years ago and subsequently lost their battles against the disease, Gulka found herself compelled to take action.

“I felt it was time I gave some help back ó I needed to do this,” she said, adding that being able to provide any amount of comfort for those who are suffering from cancer is its own reward.

But getting together with a group of others with a shared interest also makes every effort worthwhile, and Gulka said she enjoys the fellowship.

“We just have a ball when we’re together and we do not talk about people who are ill. We just keep happy, positive thoughts for everyone.”

The seamstresses meet on the last Wednesday of every month at Gulka’s residence in Sundre, where the garage was converted into a workshop courtesy of her husband Ed, who splurged on a long arm quilter that comes in handy to help finish off projects, she said.

The quilts are made and sent out by request, and the local chapter operates only through donations. Events such as quilt raffles and garage sales help to replenish the coffers when funds run low. Sometimes, the recipient of a quilt will even offer a contribution, but that’s not required nor even asked for, she said.

“That’s of their own free will.”

Last year, the local chapter sent out 85 quilts, she said.

Patients enduring chemotherapy treatment tend to experience cold chills, among other side effects, which the warmth provided by the quilts helps to alleviate, she said.

Additionally, the group puts together quilted bags that the finished quilts are put into. That way, when a cancer patient goes to a hospital or specialized centre for treatment, he or she has a convenient tote bag to carry the quilt as well as anything else that might be needed, she said.

“We get more remarks on the bags than anything!”

Anyone interested in getting involved is welcome to contact Gulka, who can be reached at 403-638-5140 and will introduce any inexperienced quilters to the tricks of the trade.

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Simon Ducatel

Simon Ducatel is the editor of the Sundre Round Up and a longtime columnist for other publications of Mountain View Publishing.