300 Words about Quilting: Awareness Quilts

Quilters Newsletter invites you to share your quilt stories with other QN readers in 300 words or less. If you have a quilt story that fits the topics listed, be it funny, sad, poignant or anything in between, we want to hear from you. Send your story, its title and your complete contact information to submissions@qnm.com. Put “300 Words” in the subject line.

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I am involved in a project called "Home of the Brave." The main goal is to make and provide quilts to the families of fallen servicemen and servicewomen, of which there are simply too many.

I decided to join this effort in memory of my dad, Charles Prentice, who was a career army man. What really got me going was the death of LCpl David Raymond Baker, a local serviceman in my home town. I didn't know him, but he touched my family in many ways. My son was working with my uncle's tree service down the street from Baker's parents' home when the Marines arrived to give the family the news. My husband was working at Kohl's when a member of the Baker family came in to buy clothes for the funeral. My husband had also placed the story in the local newspaper, The News-Herald, the day before. Baker’s sister worked with my best friend's sister at a local bowling alley.

I talked to my quilt group and set a sew date to make blocks for the quilts. With the help of my friends who donated money and signed blocks, the business owner who let us use her overflow room and The News-Herald that published a story on our efforts, we have made a few of these special quilts.

The Ohio quilt block we used is a little different than what is online, but it is keeping with the tradition of a signature quilt. We use the pattern of the Civil War, meaning no bright reds, as red is said to remind the families of the blood of their fallen son, daughter or spouse.




My grandma and I laid out one of her 9-patch quilts. “And this dark calico was from your momma’s dress when she was 12,” Grandma said. During those times, wrapped in Grandma’s words, I not only gained a fascination for the intricacies of various patterns and for color and texture combinations, I gained an awareness of my own ancestry.

After I lost her and moved away for my first teaching job, I began quilting. It cured my homesickness and it seemed a rite of passage. I was now the woman of my house, so it was my turn to have such a skill.

Of course, I was doing this without lessons and needed Grandma to instruct. Lacking that, I made lots of mistakes. I finally threw my tumbling block mess away but was already hooked. Aware of my weaknesses as a quilter, I sought someone to be “Grandma ” and found a group of them. They were diverse in ages as well as ethnicities. They welcomed me, making me aware that good people still existed in all cultures and that quilting was for all generations.

Since then I’ve done a few quilts and minor projects successfully. I’ve helped my group to finish quilts for Children’s Hospital or for wounded soldiers. My sewing is improving. In the process, I’ve been made aware of many things. First, I’m not as patient as I should be. Second, quilting is a metaphor for life: every little piece goes together to make up a whole. Not all pieces are as pleasant as hoped for, but if handled well, it can still create a positive result.  Third, helpful people are plentiful. Finally, I can be that person to someone else. Therefore, to me, every quilt is an awareness quilt.



My best friend Ena needed a kidney transplant and I was not a match with her.  She would need to be on dialysis three times a week while on the kidney transplant waiting list with an anticipated wait time of three to five years.  

My amazing husband Paul decided to be tested and found out he had a 50% genetic match with Ena even though they were not related.  Their match was as good as a brother and sister!  She now had a willing and healthy living donor but needed to have the 1st year of insurance co-pays in an account before she could get the transplant.

Ena’s friends and family quickly mobilized to raise the needed money so the transplant could happen.  I had made a Wizard of Oz themed quilt using the Yellow Brick Road pattern and had kept it waiting for the right opportunity to give it to someone.  The opportunity was at hand! This became a raffle quilt that sold over 8,356 tickets and raised $13,928 in 3 weeks, from across the United States and Canada.  The quilt traveled across the internet and was sent to fundraising events where Ena’s story was told, awareness of the critical need for organ and tissue donation was explained and the opportunity to sign up on the Organ Donor Registry was available.  

This awareness quilt was a way to quickly raise money for the transplant, communicate the critical need for organ donation and make a difference for the nearly 115,000 people waiting for an organ transplant.  This quilt also allowed Ena to follow the yellow brick road” by receiving a kidney transplant from my husband on October 2, 2012.  Both Ena and Paul are doing great! 

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