LAKE COUNTY, Fla. – The Lake County Quilters Guild is used to donating items and supporting local nonprofits and charities. The group has created thousands of quilts and raised money for hospitals, police departments and other Lake County organizations.
So when they learned that someone nearby was collecting quilts for the refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine, they sprang into action. Now, their quilts are being sent across the globe.
Rachael Woodard owns a fabric warehouse in Dade City. She’s been collecting quilts and pillowcases to send to Warsaw, Poland, where her sister is living.
“Right now she’s got a front-row view,” Woodard said. “We are able to see what’s happening through her eyes.”
Woodard’s sister, Becky Peterson, posts updates on her blog, documenting the refugees settling in her area.
“These people all need bedding and that’s not something they brought with them,” Woodard said. “I know it’s hard to imagine because we’re here in Florida but it’s not warm there. It’s quite cold.”
Woodard stopped by the Lake County Shriners Club in Tavares, where the guild meets each week, to pick up their donations.
It was a packed house as members were excited to drop off their quilts and hear Woodard’s story.
A folding table was overflowing with quilts in a rainbow of colors, 72 in all. The group also made 150 pillowcases. Each quilt has a Lake County Quilters Guild patch sewn on it so the recipient knows it was made with love.
“We want them to know we care,” Woodard said. “Seeing something handmade.”
Linda Biko has been watching the news reports from Ukraine and wanted to do something to help.
“We see people crossing over the border and getting off trains and they have nothing. They’re carrying stuff under their arm,” Biko said. “There’s quilters all over who want to help and do things.”
Woodard said she’s received more than 2,500 quilts from across the nation, but the Lake County Quilters Guild stands out.
“This particular group has been really amazing,” Woodard said. “We hope that when they get them they think of us and know how much we love them and how much our American hearts have broken over this whole thing.”
Kitty Gonzalez quickly created a quilt using material she’s had for years. The print features American flags, Liberty Bells and gold stars.
“I thought since I have this American flag fabric on the back that it would be nice,” Gonzalez said. “They would know that this came from the United States and that we were thinking of them.”
Betsy O’Neill also made a quilt in about a week so she could be part of the shipment. “This is quite different,” O’Neill said. “Most of our quilts stay in the county but we felt the need to help with the Ukraine situation. We wanted to do what we could for them.”
Woodard is using space storage bags to get about 40-60 quilts in a box. Each box is about 115 pounds. Woodard says it’s costing her about $450 to ship them directly to her sister. Woodard says she’s stopped collecting quilts, but could still use help with shipping costs. You can donate through her website.