South County Beat: Stitching together a giving tradition

On Feb. 5, the Central Coast Quilters, a nonprofit organization, will participate in the Western Monarch Celebration at the Monarch Grove in Pismo Beach.

Tables will be set up from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. with quilt squares for children and adults to decorate as butterflies. The squares will later be sewn together into quilts and donated to various causes.

The philanthropic arm of the organization is known as the Quilting Angels. They meet once a week at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church on Fair Oaks Road in Arroyo Grande to create quilts for auctions or donations. Members emphasize that they want to donate quilts where they are truly needed. They donated 636 quilts in 2010.

The old-fashioned quilting bee, where people sat around a frame and sewed quilts by hand, has been replaced by the sewing machine. It’s a collaborative effort, where one person makes the blocks, another puts it together, someone puts in the batting, and another sews on the backing. Of course, some still quilt by hand.

The quilters donate many quilts for fundraisers, including through the Central Coast Follies for Parkinson’s disease, Hospice Partners, Coast Hills Community Foundation for Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, the Boys and Girls Club, St. Patrick’s School, Dana Adobe and Quality of Life Plus, which raises funds for first responders injured on the job.

In addition, members donate quilts to Get on the Bus, which takes children to see their fathers at California Men’s Colony; neonatal programs at local hospitals; the California Highway Patrol; the Sheriff’s Department; and the San Luis Obispo Women’s Shelter. Woods Humane Society receives “pet pillows” made out of leftover bits and pieces.

Through local libraries, the Central Coast Quilters have children put their hands down on a cloth square. They trace around their hands and decorate the piece. Later, the quilters put the pieces together.

The group has a display at the Arroyo Grande library. One quilt is on permanent display in the children’s section, and five are in the adult section. There will be prizes for readers who read the most books.

Shirley Bradshaw, 68, of Arroyo Grande, a former flower grower, heads the philanthropic committee. She, her husband and her son all do quilting.

Sarah Frankie, 41, a stay-at-home mom, is treasurer for the Central Coast Quilters, keeping track of donations and expenses, such as the batting, which must be ordered from Texas. Collette Blair of Shell Beach does the ordering.

Coming up is the Seven Sisters Quilt Show, on April 30 and May 1 at the Alex Madonna Expo Center. For more information, go to www.aqgcc.org.

Quilting Angels welcomes newcomers, men and women, at St. Patrick’s Church meeting hall on Tuesdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Central Coast Quilters meet the fourth Tuesday of each month at the Arroyo Grande Women’s Center from 6:30 to 9 p.m. The next meeting will be Feb. 22.

For more information about Central Coast Quilters or Quilting Angels, contact Shirley at 489-8935 or Collette at 773-5623.