Volunteers create a patchwork of support for WINhouse
EDMONTON -- The group Central Sewing Volunteers has been around for more than two decades, and the pandemic hasn't stopped the ladies from helping out a charity close to their hearts.
Colette Martin has been sewing for 50 years, she started quilting in 1975, and joined the group 11 years ago.
"I'm good with my hands and I used to make my own clothes but I haven't done any clothing sewing in ages, it's more the crafting stuff and the quilting," said Martin.
The sewers work together to make quilts, each woman working on a different part and then all the pieces are brought together to finish the blanket.
"The other members have made all of these blocks and they have to be put together, so I'm putting the sashing in, these are little spacers," said Martin.
"Just like a factory, everybody does their part and it all gets done."
Pre-pandemic the group would get together every Monday and work as a group. Now members work on a portion of a quilt at home and then meet in a parking lot to pass it to the next person.
"And then you put it in a bag with lots of instructions and your phone number," said Eileen Cadiz, Central Sewing Volunteers President.
The group also makes clothing, bags and pillowcases for WINhouse, a shelter for women and children fleeing domestic abuse.
"Between 250 to 300 quilts a year," said Cadiz. "And just tons of pajamas and clothing."
When women leave the shelter they're given a bag of items: pots, pans, dishes and things sewn by the Central Sewing Volunteers.
"I get goosebumps when I hear a story because we're helping out. We're helping people who get there with nothing," said Martin.
One year the group asked women at the shelter if there was anything else they wanted sewn for them.
"We said, 'Is there anything we're not making for you?' And one of the ladies piped up and said, 'Can you guys sew toasters?'" Cadiz chuckled at the memory. "Toasters, like that's something they needed, toasters."
Jokes aside, it's been a tough year for the group – like many volunteer run organizations. The group relies on fabric donations, but still spend about $6,000 – money they fundraise – on materials like batting and large pieces of fabric for the backs of quilts.
"This year we're struggling. We're not having our craft sale, we're struggling financially and we'll greatly accept donations of money as well as looking for new volunteers," said Cadiz.
And although long-time volunteer Martin is grateful for the friendships she's built while doing something she loves, she wishes there wasn't a need.
"It should not be necessary, but unfortunately it is, and we do what we can to help out."
With files from CTV News Edmonton's Amanda Anderson.