ATHABASCA - A warm hug can mean the world sometimes, and more than 100 hugs sewn into more than 100 quilts will soon be wrapped around Ukrainian evacuees.
Two groups, the Quilting for Humanity Society (QFHS) in Athabasca and the Atmore Quilting Club (AQC), donated 130 handmade quilts combined those fleeing their war torn homes to find safety in Alberta.
Former Alberta premier, Ed Stelmach and wife Marie were in Athabasca May 2 to pick those quilts up from QFHS and were given a tour of the set-up the quilters have in the basement of the Athabasca Legion, where they work four days a month.
“These quilts will be distributed through his foundation (the Ed Stelmach Community Foundation) to the Ukrainian refugees coming into northcentral Alberta,” said QFHS secretary Janice Green.
Town of Athabasca mayor Rob Balay also stopped in and was impressed with the assembly line of quilts the ladies have produced.
"It was great to drop by the Legion and see our local non-profit quilting club, Quilting for Humanity, in action donating 114 quilts to the Ed Stelmach Foundation,” Balay said in a May 5 text. “Former premier Ed Stelmach was on hand to receive this very generous and loved-filled donation to help support Ukraine refugee efforts here in Alberta."
The Stelmachs stopped long enough for a visit with the quilters before cramming 114 of the 130 available quilts into their car.
“We ended up having a lovely visit with the Stelmachs over coffee before they hit the road for home, and there were sure some interesting stories and opinions shared about the relief efforts internationally and locally, as well as current events in Canada, and some things that happened when Ed was premier,” Green said.
The remainder of the quilts, plus a few more still to come, will be delivered to Stelmach at the supper being organized by the Atmore-Grassland-Prosvita communities May 28.
AQC has been meeting Monday nights and during the day Tuesdays to complete their 22 quilts and the Plamondon Quilting Club donated a roll of batting to help fill the quilts with more love.
Jennie Heatherington, who is part of the 15-year-old AQC and is also helping to organize the sold-out supper, said the quilts will be given to evacuees who will start arriving in the Athabasca region over the next few weeks.
“It takes a long time to get processed but we hope some have arrived in time for the supper,” she said May 8.
She added the supper sold out within two days but the prospect of adding more tables wasn’t considered. The group may do another supper in a couple of months though, adding St. Paul is working on their second fundraiser supper after the same thing happened there.
“We probably could have filled the hall to 500 but I catered when (singer) George Fox was here and that was 470 people and it was crammed,” Heatherington said, noting there needs to be room for the buffet style supper tables, silent auction tables, and for people to move around.
Stelmach, who took the quilts and distributed them this past weekend, chose to hold his comments until after he gave away the quilts to evacuees so he could share their reactions. He will also be attending the supper on May 28 in Grassland.