Surprise quilts

Sew It Forward, a group that sews quilts for fire victims, surprised the Kennedy family Saturday. From left, Sheila Kennedy, Brittany, Joe Penner, father of Lane, Tina Bulington of Sew It Forward and Tim Kennedy. Their business and home, Kennedy’s Attic, was destroyed March 31.

GREG LOWER

A charitable sewing bee provided quilts Saturday to warm a Chanute family whose home and business were destroyed by fire.

Tina Bulington of the group Sew it Forward presented four quilts to the Kennedy family Saturday as a surprise. She presented one to Tim and Sheila Kennedy, one each for son Christian and daughter Brittany, and one for the youngest, Lane.

The group makes quilts for victims of fires.

Bulington connected with the Kennedys through Chanute photographer Lois Elaine Brill, who gathered details to personalize the quilts. Kennedy’s Attic, an antique store the family lived above, was destroyed by a fire March 31. Although the building was insured, the inventory was not.

Jen De Jong founded Sew It Forward in 2014 when her parents’ house burned. After a few quilts, the group sort of faded away, Bulington said, so she asked De Jong to restart it and became administrator of the Facebook page. Since then, it has grown to more than 500 members, not all active.

Some members donate completed quilts, but the usual practice is for the members to sew the blocks, which they send to Bulington to assemble. She joins the blocks with batting and backing on a machine she uses for her business, Be Still Quilts in Halstead.

“I specialize in memory quilts and t-shirt quilts as those are my passion,” Bulington said. “But my heart is always touched when I get to work on the charity quilts as I look at it as what I’m ‘called’ to do.”

The blocks come from as far as Canada, Australia and Germany.

“Quilts are seasonal,” Bulington said. “They think about it when they’re cold.”

She said she tries to complete the quilts in three months.

The group’s goal is to complete 52 quilts by the end of the year. They are striving to meet the needs of the victims of 14 fires, and so far have presented 30 quilts to seven families. The next project is for quilts for four children and one couple in a family from Texas. Earlier this year, the group presented 10 quilts to a family of 15 in Pratt that lost five members. Future quilts will go to Missouri, Washington, Virginia and Idaho.

The group does not have tax-deductible status, but takes donations and has a PayPal account. It can be contacted at sewitforward@yahoo.com. Information about the group is available at https://www.facebook.com/groups/229642043881514/

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