Preschoolers gifted handmade quilts by local sewing group

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Posted October 1, 2021 | By Katrina Cabansay


Reddick-Collier Pre-K teacher Nicole Lambert didn’t expect much when she noticed the large bags waiting in her classroom. The principal had told her a few days that a local group called the Sewing Bees wanted to make quilts for her class, and seeing no harm in the idea, she accepted. Shock overtook her as she untied the blue ribbons sealing in the handmade treasures.

“When I opened the bag and saw all these quilts, I took some of them out and couldn’t believe it. It looked priceless, like something you’d have designed,” Lambert said.

She sat in awe as the handmade patchworks piled on the floor beside her, each one distinct yet equally laden with love. Motifs of everything from butterflies to motorcycles to Mickey Mouse turned up during her unpacking, and she even discovered small pillows and bags in the mix, also handmade.

“I just kept thinking, ‘There’s more, there’s more, there’s one for every child,’” Lambert said. “This group … I think of them all the time. The hours, the conversations they must’ve been having, all the love they put into this.”

While this was Reddick-Collier’s first time being gifted by the fabric-savvy group, the Sewing Bees have volunteered their craft in Marion County for a long time. Established during the ‘80s, the group has spent decades making handmade quilts for children in need, typically creating small pillows and carrying bags to go with them. All its members are residents of On Top of the World, and they regularly donate to several organizations such as Head Start and the Marion County Children’s Alliance, giving around 500 to 600 quilts annually across the Marion County area.

Sewing Bees Vice President Marsha Schneer said the group’s main goal is to make kids happy.

“We’re paying it forward,” Schneer said. “We have no grandkids that are young enough to sew for, but we still like to sew.”

In Lambert’s Pre-K classroom, the quilts excited the 4- and 5-year-olds. They picked their own quilts, and Lambert used the pillows and carrying bags to put together reading bags for the class. Each bag contained a quilt, pillow and bag created by the Sewing Bees as well as a children’s book and resources for parents on fostering a love of reading in their kids.

The quilts also gave Lambert, who has been at Reddick-Collier for 17 years, the chance to teach her students about the impact of random intentional kindness.

“When I asked them how it made them feel, an overwhelming response was ‘special,’” Lambert said. “And I said, ‘How good does that feel? Wouldn’t it be nice to make everyone feel special?’”

One parent, Kaela Hernandez, said her son Caiden rushed to lay down with it once he brought his quilt home. It’s rarely left him since.

“Every night he needs his blanket,” Hernandez said. “It’s so special to him.”

The class is already working on their own “quilt” to give back to the Sewing Bees. While their patchwork is made of paper and pictures, Lambert said she hopes it makes the group feel as appreciated as their quilts made her students feel.

“It can change your whole perspective, and it’s inspired me to keep that in mind,” Lambert said. “When you’re going through life, always think how you have to make someone else feel special.”

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