By Lori Blande
Victoria’s Quilts Canada is a non-profit charitable organization, established by Betty Giffin in Ottawa to make quilts to give to people with cancer in Canada. The quilts provide comfort and warmth. They help the person receiving the quilt cope a little more easily with the stress and anxiety of the diagnosis as well as the discomfort associated with the treatments.
The impact on recipients of these heartfelt gifts cannot be overstated.
The organization has seen immense growth over the past 10 years and now includes over 1,000 volunteers in Ottawa and 30 other communities across the country. There are no paid people in the organization. Everyone is a volunteer.
Doris Toews, of Steinbach, saw a photo and story about the quilts in the Farmer’s Independent Weekly in early 2008. The photo showed the group’s 10,000th quilt being presented to a Manitoba recipient. Doris called Betty in Ottawa to offer “a quilt or two” to Victoria Quilts. The next thing Doris knew, she was starting her own chapter to give quilts to Manitoba recipients.
The quilts are made by individual quilters working independently or in groups who meet and create quilts together in a team setting, similar to the quilting bees of times past. Since its inception, the Steinbach chapter has donated over 275 handmade quilts to Manitoba recipients. Victoria’s Quilts Canada delivered its 25,000th quilt last September.
Lori Blande, of Winnipeg, heard about the organization and subsequently requested a quilt for a friend, and later met Doris and her chapter on a visit to Steinbach. She discovered the dedicated ladies there were not only donating their time and expertise but were largely paying for their own quilting materials. She volunteered to become fundraising chair for the branch.
In November, Lori and her committee held a raffle to raise money for a quilting machine and material for the Steinbach branch. First prize was a queen size art quilt valued at $800; a painting and gift certificate were offered as follow up prizes. That same month, the Steinbach branch staged a two-day quilt show and sale, which also featured a quilt raffle and silent auction.
Quilt requests are increasing and the women wanted a quilting machine to speed up the quilting process.
Readers wanting to donate a quilt or to offer help to the Steinbach branch can reach Doris at (204) 326-3148, or email at Steinbach@victoriasquiltscanada.com. The main organization website is at victoriaquiltscanada.com