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Quilter ensures graduates have a quilt to take with them

Sandy Wade shows a quilt she is making for a graduate.

By Marijke Fakasiieiki

Sandra Wade stitches love and warmth into the handmade quilts she sews for Hutton Settlement graduates.

"I started making quilts in 1986 after I took a quilting class. We were making mini quilts for the Festival of Trees, as a benefit for the Valley Hospital. That mushroomed into my interest in quilting," said Sandy.

While she ran a quilt shop from 1995 to 2008, she had fun meeting people and gathered "a lifetime supply of fabric." Sandy continues to quilt every day.

She is a member of small quilting groups and Washington State Quilters (WSQ). Those groups decided to make quilts for every bed at Hutton Settlement, which provides safe and healthy living opportunities for children ages five to 18 in need of a long-term alternative home.

That was Sandra's introduction to Hutton Settlement.

The settlement provides young people with intentional educational programs, attachment-based care, social, emotional and talent development and eco-literacy.

Sandra's group eventually made 100 quilts for settlement beds. Those quilts stay on the beds and go through generations of children who live there.

"About 10 years ago, I realized that every year several graduate after a good experience and education in West Valley schools. They leave their residence at the settlement to go off, but they have little that's theirs," said Sandy.

"A quilt is something these teens can take away that's theirs, and it's something made by someone who cares," she said.

So, Sandy started making quilts for each Hutton Settlement graduate.

Some years there are three, some years five, and some years there are no graduates.

"Every child who graduates receives a quilt. That was my ground rule if I was going to do this. I don't know them or meet them. I just know how many of them are boys and how many are girls," she said.

Sandy includes a note with each quilt about how to care for it, and saying she expects it will be used, loved and abused: "Every time you wrap yourself in this quilt, know you are being wrapped with a hug."

She now does this as a volunteer activity under the auspices of Spokane Valley Sunrise Rotary.

When she puts together the documentation, she always signs her name with the Rotary symbol and the name of her club.

Because Sandy is a quilt designer and pattern producer, not all the quilts are the same. She usually uses one of five different patterns she has created.

"I'm building one now that is a published pattern," she said.

Sandy chooses fabrics to put together and sends them off to be laid out. Then she does the quilting and binding.

Everything is put together by sewing machine, except for the binding. She puts it onto the face of the quilt by machine, then stitches the back by hand.

She makes the quilts 60 by 80 inches. That way the quilt is big enough for students to wrap around themselves and cuddle in, and also big enough for a dorm bed in college.

In the process of giving quilts to graduates, Sandra discovered that one young man became interested in learning about coffee roasting when a Sandpoint coffee roaster came and taught him and others at Hutton the coffee roasting process.

Before the student graduated, he traveled to Europe to learn more about coffee roasting. Even after his graduation, the coffee roasting continues. Hutton Opportunities for Professional Exploration (HOPE) Neighborhood Roasters roast coffee on site and make it available by subscription.

"Over the years, Sandy's generosity and talent has meant many young adults go into the world with something special that brings them comfort. Not only does it help commemorate a special time in their lives, but it also serves as a reminder of their resilience among difficult hurdles thrown their way and how much their community stands with them," said Chud Wendle, executive director of Hutton Settlement.

"Everyone has to find their own passion and decide how to turn that into a service for others or to others," said Sandy. "I don't care if it's woodworking or quilting, being a mentor, cooking or yard work, everyone has to find their own thing.

"For me, it's quilting. It's something I can do to give back to others and feel good about, because a quilt is a product that will last generations," she said.

Other Rotary volunteers and Sandy also recently spent time at Second Harvest packing lunch bags for school children for the next weekend.

"It was something we could do, that just took a couple of hours of our time and those kids will be really happy that we did, because they will be able to eat this weekend," she added.

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Copyright@ The Fig Tree, June 2023