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Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder

They are just 14 square feet, but the warmth and comfort they provide are immeasurable.

They are the “ugly quilts” Donna Rector and others make as part of My Brother’s Keeper Quilt Group’s Sleeping Bag project, a nationwide coalition of individuals and groups who make simple sleeping bags for the homeless.

Donna first heard about The Sleeping Bag project through her sister, who saw a story about My Brother’s Keeper on television approximately eight years ago. She went online and found the instructions to make the sleeping bags and got Donna and her two other sisters interested.

Using fabric remnants, they were able to make their first sleeping bag in 10 simple steps.

“They’re not necessarily pretty, but they can keep a homeless person warm until they can get into a shelter,” Donna says.

Donna estimated it takes one person eight hours to make one quilt. Adding another person cuts the assembly time in half. This March, she’s set up shop in Fellowship Hall cutting, layering and sewing blankets with the help of Mary Wakeley, Carol Rotherham, DoraLea Lee, Barb Copple and Lorraine Kramer.

In the summers, Donna travels to Iowa to sew more sleeping bags with her sisters and cousins.

All the fabric and materials are sourced from donations, or clean gently used fabric, blankets and sheets Donna finds.

Once finished, the sleeping bags are donated to Bright Horizons to distribute at Project Homeless Connect, a one-day, one-stop event where individuals in need can access a multitude of service providers under one roof.

Last year, Donna donated 15 sleeping bags. Her goal this year is 20.

Some of those blankets have already been put to use, as Donna delivered eight to Lutheran High Northeast so those who were evacuated due to the March flooding had something to keep them warm. After the evacuation orders were lifted, the sleeping bags found themselves on their way to Fremont to help the flooding victims there.

“I’m just glad they are there to help someone and provide a little comfort,” Donna said.

So while the bags may not be pretty, their beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

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