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  • Writer's pictureTerri Tomoff

Manufacturing Sunshine in Quilts from Maryland to Maui!

It's been like Christmas here with being the coordinator of boxing up two dozen quilts on their way to Maui. Let me explain further.

Exactly 24 quilts are nestled in big brown boxes, behaving nicely in their folded stance as they travel from the Crofton, Maryland, Post Office to Maui, Hawaii. They are family-ready to help rebuild lives in fire-stricken Lahaina, still so devastated since August 8, 2023, when wildfires tore through that town something awful.

So why send quilts when they possibly need much more? Well, that’s what quilters do when there is strife in the world, even close to home. We try to cover those sorrows with a lovingly hand-made quilt to envelope each person who wraps up in one or snuggles on the sofa with one, that there is love in each sewn stitch.

When my travel companion, Jodie, and I entered the Maui Quilt Shop in mid-September, I felt right at home. The ladies there are “my people.” I love fabric (I touched and bought a lot) and learned that "my tribe" is also in Hawaii. The cute shop also had handmade gifts and other things that Jodie perused and purchased—useful small trinkets.

After a good spell of checking out the small rooms packed with fabrics and quilts for the survivors of the Lahaina fires, two nicely dressed women sheepishly entered the shop. Come to find out, they lost EVERYTHING they owned due to the fires and were there to select one quilt each for their families. Two years ago, Jodie also lost EVERYTHING in her house fire on Kelleys Island, Ohio. Hearing some of their stories, I believe Jodie was instantly drawn back to that frightful time in her life, yet she approached the two overwhelmed women in solidarity as only Jodie could. I loved how she bestowed her grace and love to the women who were still traumatized but hopeful to start anew.

While the three fire survivors were talking, I continued shopping and chatted with the shop owners about how I’d love to send quilts to their shop. I bragged about my small but mighty quilt guild, knowing they would happily send quilts to Maui. Thankfully, I could coordinate all the quilts from in-person meetings and other events to get them all in one place (my house) to box up and ship out (took weeks).

And, on a lark, I went on one of those local social media boards to find a home for all my quilting scraps (my goal was to find someone who makes scrap rugs). I had no luck there, but a gentleman wrote back and said that the St. Paul’s Quilt Group in Crofton would accept my scraps to be discarded properly - and they meet on Tuesdays in the Church’s basement (my T-shirt Quilts yield a lot of cotton scraps).

It just so happened that hubby Bill and I had a few errands to run the same morning the St. Paul Quilters meet. We loaded our car with a half dozen garbage bags filled with scraps and other items to take to the recycling center in our county. Once we entered the downstairs work zones with sewing machines humming and many women working together to make quilts, I was greeted by a few people I knew from the neighborhood. When I told them about the Maui Project going on to help Lahaina, I also asked if they were willing to donate a couple of quilts toward this endeavor (they donate a lot of quilts, too). With loving hearts who know the power of quilts, they were all in to donate! By the time we left the Church, we had another half dozen quilts in a bag ready to be shipped to Maui tucked in the back seat.

Once home, the St. Paul’s quilts were piled on top of the already donated quilts by my guild, the Southern Comforters of Bowie-Crofton, Maryland. Our community quilts outreach program also meets every Tuesday, cranking out quilts to donate to hospices in our area, children’s hospitals worldwide, veterans, and special education schools. Other individuals came forward to give me even more quilts; hence the total of 24 coming out of the Mid-Atlantic for this first shipment out West.

I am gushing over this joint effort with many wonderful people who quilt to help others in Lahaina, Hawaii, and beyond! We know the healing power of quilts and how they are formidable tools to soothe the hearts and minds of hurting people.

When I called the Maui Quilt shop a couple of weeks ago, they said they had about 4200 quilts donated from all around the USA/Canada and other cities worldwide so far. Their goal is 6000 quilts.

Yesterday (11/7/2023), I spent several hours prepping the quilts. I ensured they all had labels, were clean and lint-free, and had a photo taken of each one (Thanks, Bill). Packing the three boxes for optimal space was also a high priority before I made the trek to the Post Office. Since the boxes were quite heavy, I made three trips to the car with each box and three trips to the post office with each box. It was a weight workout, for sure.

THANK YOU to everyone who played a part in making quilts for Maui. I am indebted to our Postal sponsor, Carol Berg, who graciously paid for the entire shipment! It was teamwork for all the connections to make it a go from Maryland to Maui.

I hope all 24 quilts arrive safely and find nice homes. Maybe it can be the start of something good for each family that receives one of “ours.”



A sampling of the quilts sent:

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