Funds support group’s effort to make lap quilts for Oaklawn Hospice patients

A volunteer group that creates lap quilts for Oaklawn Hospice patients has received a special expression of warmth and care – grants and donations totaling $1,700.

About a dozen women comprise the group called “Hospice Helpers,” which has met monthly for about three years at Quilts at the Marshall House. The donated money will be used to purchase fabric, batting and thread for new lap quilts.

The major donations were two $750 grants, one each from the Marshall Community Foundation and Battle Creek Community Foundation. A donation for $200 came from Kellogg Corporate Citizenship Fund, recognizing the Hospice Helpers hours donated by Vicky Gray of Battle Creek, a Kellogg retiree.

“For a long time, the volunteers had been using their own fabric – and that gets expensive,” said Chris Carothers, a licensed practical nurse who serves as intake coordinator at Oaklawn Hospital’s Homecare office. “A typical lap quilt costs about $50 for the fabric and batting.”

“Every patient at the start of care gets a quilt,” and families of patients normally keep the quilts, Carothers said.

“Early on, when we started this, one family was so appreciative that the patient was buried with the quilt,” Carothers said. “That just touched my heart.”

“We donate four to six quilts a month,” said Gray. “Two of the ladies who started the group were pretty much donating all the fabric and materials themselves.” Gray identified them as Rosalee Kellum and Patti Woodbury.

“That’s a substantial amount of money, and if the group is going to continue we need to find someone who will help us fund the materials at least,” Gray said.

Hospice Helpers meets from noon to 4 p.m. on the third Tuesday of each month at 100 Exchange St., said Karen Larson, who runs Quilts at the Marshall House. More information is available at www.quiltsatthemarshallhouse.com.

The volunteers do much of their fabric-cutting at home, and then bring fabric blocks to meetings for distribution and sewing, Larson said.

“Some people bring their (sewing) machines,” she said. “Some people put on bindings. Some people cut out material for the next time.”

Carothers already was a quilter when she began work with Oaklawn Hospice, launched in 2008.

“Lap quilts are traditional with most hospices,” she said. “I saw a chance for that to happen here. I went to the Marshall House and asked Karen about it. And now, of course, I’m feeling really good about it – that there are women who are willing to spend their time to make quilts for our patients. I think that’s awesome.”

Members of the Fredonia Grange quilting group also volunteer their time and donate materials to the making of quilts provided to Oaklawn Hospice, Carothers said.

Gray learned about Hospice Helpers when she stopped in one day at Quilts at the Marshall House.

“It’s not a huge commitment time-wise, and I felt this was a worthwhile cause,” Gray said. “And it’s truly a group effort.” The new funds are likely to furnish materials for about six or seven months of activity, Gray said.

“So, we’re looking for other sources of funding down the road,” she said. “I’m looking for suggestions.”

November is Home Care & Hospice Month, sponsored by the National Association for Home Care & Hospice. It honors those who assist and comfort patients and family members dealing with end-of-life challenges. Oaklawn Hospice’s offices at 122 High St. in Marshall may be contacted by calling (269) 789-3939 or (877) 832-9019. Information about bereavement services or general grief support is available as well.

The Marshall Community Foundation accepts, invests, and distributes resources according to donors' intentions for the benefit of the community. For additional information, call (269) 781-CARE (2273) or send an email to info@marshallcf.org.

The Battle Creek Community Foundation makes grants focusing on health, education and a livable community. For additional information, call (269) 962-2181 or visit www.bccfoundation.org.

Kellogg Corporate Citizenship Fund makes a $100 donation for each Kellogg employee or retiree who volunteers 10 hours with the same organization in any consecutive 12-month period. For information about Kellogg’s Care$, call (269) 961-3888 or send an email to corporate.contributions@kellogg.com.

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