The gratitude shown to the women involved with the Tignish Branch of Victoria’s Quilts Canada (VQC) can be overwhelming at times.
“Most of the thank you cards, at least 90 per cent, their first words are it’s such a comfort,” said Treasurer Eleanor Perry.
“They’re really surprised someone would give them a quilt they don’t know,” added Anne Marie McInnis, president of the branch.
The VQC provides handmade quilts to people living with cancer in Canada. The Tignish Branch was established seven years ago in June 2014. The group was started by Ms Perry, Ms McInnis, her sister Edith Hogan, Joan Fennessey and Jeannette Gaudet. The five women make up the executive of the group, but the branch has about 30 or so volunteers across the Island. Some of these volunteers cut material, others sandwich the quilts, some machine stitch while others hand stitch.
In the past seven years, the Tignish Branch has given out 575 quilts. On average, the group makes between 80-90 quilts a year, with the quilts costing roughly $100 each to make. On top of monetary donations, much of the material used for the quilts are donated to the group thanks to the generosity of many people, including local quilters.
For a patient to receive a quilt, friends or family need to make a request to the National Branch in Ottawa to ensure that the patient is only receiving one quilt. Each quilt has to be made in accordance to the VQC guidelines, that includes all material used need to be 100 per cent cotton.
“Cancer patients tend to have allergies,” said Ms Perry.
Each quilt consists of a cotton top, a thin layer of batting for warmth, and a flannelette backing for softness.
Once completed, the quilts are delivered to the person’s door by volunteers in Prince and Queens County. The Tignish Branch hopes the recipients of quilts get physical comfort as well as spiritual comfort, knowing they are not alone in their journey.
That comfort is very familiar to Ms Perry, Ms McInnis and Ms Gaudet, who are cancer survivors themselves. All three women received quilts through the national branch when they were going through treatment.
“It was very touching,” said Ms Perry about receiving a blanket.
That inspired the women to start a local branch on PEI.
“When we started we thought we would just do West Prince, but now we are kind of covering the Island,” said Ms Hogan. “We have a such good group that helps us, that we can do it.”
The whole group agrees the experience of the last seven years has been rewarding.
“It’s a passion for me,” said Ms McInnis.
Ms Hogan credited the many volunteers with the group as the true reason they’ve been able to keep the branch going.