Wrapped in love: Outer Banks Blanketeers donate 411 handmade quilts

Published 1:49 pm Monday, March 25, 2024

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For more than 20 years, women have been gathering together during the winter months at Duck Methodist Church to use their creative gifts to bless their community.

The Outer Banks Blanketeers meet Friday mornings during January and February to learn a quilt pattern, select material, and showcase their handiwork. In all, 411 beautiful handmade quilts of various sizes and designs were made by the Blanketeers this year.

At their annual quilt show last Saturday, March 9, the women displayed the blankets throughout the church for the public to enjoy before packing them up to send the various organizations throughout the Outer Banks and the state of North Carolina.

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Though 50 people are officially part of the OBX Blanketeers, which is open to anyone in the community regardless of skill level or church affiliation, about 30-35 women worked together this year to make the quilts.

“The thing is to have a place to use your talents,” said coordinator Sally Meagher, who guesses she’s made over 500 quilts in her lifetime. “Nobody has this many beds or this many relatives. This is a great group of women who enjoy each other and learn from each other.”

Their mornings begin with Meagher passing out the week’s pattern. The pattern changes each week, starting with a simple pattern and increasing in complexity each meeting.

An example of one of the simpler patterns is the “Can You Match?” pattern, which contains two squares of each pattern; toddlers can play a game to find the matching piece. These small quilts are donated various daycare programs. About 20 other quilts designed for children go to the Head Start Program in Manteo.

Outer Banks Blanketeers makes blankets for every dialysis patient at the Manteo clinic as well as several pediatric units throughout the state. A local women’s shelter receives blankets, as does a shelter in Raleigh.

This year, the group made about 30 red, white and blue quilts for a veterans’ group that takes weekend retreats with struggling veterans, matching younger veterans with older ones. These quilts were larger and all followed the same pattern entitled “Quilts of Valor.”

“I think it helps them to know that someone cares,” said quilting member Wanda Johnsen.

Much of the fabric is donated. Sometimes, Meagher said, people have it left over, or they are moving, or they are donating their mother’s old stash of material. The group purchases fleece and batting, and some of the quilters will buy some coordinating fabric for a piece they are working on. Alpha Delta Kappa Sorority of teachers made several dozen fleece blankets for donation.

“I just love it,” said Sally Kole, who has been a part of the quilting group for 17 years.  “I’m not one of the most skilled in the group, but it makes you feel good to do something you enjoy doing that helps someone in the community.”