Quilters donate thousands of quilts
By Anna Crigger - Intern
Linda Harris and Arline Whitney, members of Opportunity Presbyterian Church (OPC) in Spokane Valley, have spent countless hours designing, sewing, cutting and threading to create quilts for local groups and individuals.
Between 2003 and 2022, OPC Quilters have made and donated 4,690 quilts.
They have donated to such organizations as the YMCA Project Warm Up, Deaconess Hospital NICU, Spokane Police Chaplains, Valley Partners, Spokane Veterans' Home, Family Promise, Victims Service Unit in Post Falls, Crosswalk and Partners with Families and Children.
In addition, they give quilts to deacons to take to shut-ins.
Quilting donations have been given to victims of the 2020 Malden fire and to teachers and bus drivers impacted by the 2017 shooting at Freeman High School.
At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, 45 quilts were donated to the children of OPC.
"I love thinking about where our creations go and hope people have as much joy using them as I had fun making them," Arline said. "Giving this beautiful fabric a new home to be loved is what makes me happy."
Both Linda and Arline regularly attend OPC and are members of the church's quilting group, OPC Quilters.
Linda, who is the OPC Quilters coordinator, started the quilting group in 2003.
She enjoys experimenting with various donated sewing supplies and fabrics to create something new.
"It's reminiscent of when I was learning how to sew," she said.
"I view my work with OPC Quilters as a mission project because we are reaching out to people in the community," Linda said. "Our goal is to keep what we make in the community."
Arline researched OPC when she moved to Spokane in 2007 and "saw that they had a quilt group," she said.
During her first Sunday at OPC, she met one of the quilters and quickly felt a sense of community.
"I knew it was meant to be a place for me," she said.
Arline found the quilting group was "a wonderful way to get acquainted with the women of the church."
Through quilting, she could learn about them as she listened to them talk about their families and history.
Linda and Arline have both developed friendships through the OPC quilting group. For many it is a "support group." They support one another at church and when they have surgeries, experience difficulties and celebrate successes.
"We work with eight to 12 women and one man on third Thursdays of the months of September through May," Arline said. "The man who sews for us is paralyzed from the waist down. He uses a sewing machine with a push on/off switch."
In addition to quilts, members of the group create homemade table runners, tote bags, placemats, bowl cozies, aprons and more.
Using donated materials such as drapery material and zippers, "we have created tote bags we give to the Valley Center so people can use them to haul their food," Linda said.
"We gave out more than 100 tote bags there before Christmas," Arline said.
Since 2014, the group has also donated $20,000 from quilt sales at the church's annual fall bazaars to the church for the Children's Christmas Toy Store.
They earned that much because the bazaars draw people from the wider community, as well as church members.
OPC uses the money to purchase new toys for children. This year they served more than 300 children.
The school district selects parents to come and pay 20 percent of the retail price for new toys for their children.
OPC Quilters rely on the community for donations of fabric, thread, buttons and more to create new quilting projects. Individuals, The Quilting Bee and YMCA Project Warm Up have donated fabric and sewing supplies to OPC Quilters.
"When people donate fabric to the YMCA, we use it to make the quilts," Arline said. "We then donate completed quilts back to the YMCA's Project Warm Up."
She said they use scraps from projects to make sure fabric and supplies are used and not wasted.
For example, OPC Quilters share fabric and supplies with other "quilt groups that use materials a little differently than we do," she said.
They also share with Peace Lutheran Church in Otis Orchards, which takes some materials the OPC group doesn't use.
For information, call 924-9750.