DELAND, Fla. - The hum of an electric motor fills the living room of Alissa Lapinsky's DeLand home. She's putting the finishing touches on one of the last of over 1800 quilts the Orlando Modern Quilt Guild has made or collected as part of the "Quilts for Pulse Project."
Her long arm sewing machine moves back and forth over the rainbow colored material. "This is the quilting part of a quilt," she explains. "It's all freehand," she continues, as the needle pierces in and out creating a flowing pattern over a multicolor heart.
Lapinsky, former president of the Orlando Modern Quilt Guild, has turned her home into what can only be described as a quilting factory. She and a small group of members spent the last year hard at work trying to complete a monumental task.
Following the Pulse shooting in downtown Orlando, she put out a call on social media for fabric and supplies. It was her way of helping those affected by the tragedy. Her plan was for the guild to assemble 102 quilts to give to victims of the shooting and their families.
"I just felt like something needed to be done," she says. "As a quilt guild, we can give love by giving quilts."
She immediately began planning a quilt drive.
"I posted on the guild Instagram," she says. "I went to sleep, woke up in the morning and nine hours later I had messages from Australia, messages from Canada, from the UK."
News 6 first interviewed her last August when the project was first getting started. At the time she was receiving packages from around the country and the world. She recalls her mailman delivering packages with a hand cart.
"It's overwhelming," she said then, as she looked at a stack of over 100 quilts folded and cataloged, ready to be given away. Quilts and fabric took over a spare bedroom, her living room and dinning room.
Each quilt is unique but most are made in a pattern of hearts. An easy template of "blocks" she says anyone can make and send in. She's also received completed quilts, many with beautiful custom designs.
Lapinsky says it takes a minimum of 10 hours to complete one quilt. "It's amazing," she says of the worldwide effort. She runs some numbers on her calculator. "Let' say it takes seven yards of fabric per quilt. That's 126-thousand yards of fabric but fabric is about ten dollars a yard so that's 126-thousand dollars not counting the batting or thread."
Over the last year the guild has offered to give everyone involved with the tragedy a quilt. First responders, hospital workers, family members and their friends can all curl up with one of the quilts made from material donated from one of 24 countries and every state in the U.S.
News 6 was there as David Burress, friend of victim Luis Vielma, picked up his quilt. Burress says the quilt reminds him of his friend. "When I first held it it was so comforting," he says running his fingers across the fabric. "You can see all the love that was put into it."
Examples of the quilts have been displayed publicly over the last year. A donated quilt will be on display next week at the Orange County History Center for a special presentation of the One Orlando Collection of Pulse related items.
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