Another natural disaster has brought on yet more quilt donation drives. I’ve written about this before, and really haven’t changed my thinking since then. I completely understand the desire to help by donating an object created with good intentions and imbued with positive symbolism – warmth, handmade, etc. However, it’s one thing to donate quilts and other hand sewn items to local charities and relief efforts; but a different matter to send such donations hundreds and even thousands of miles away. Where will the donated quilts be stored until they’re distributed? Will they be a useful size? Will the recipients even have a place to keep them?
Rationally, it would be more cost effective to donate money to the people of Moore, Oklahoma. Shipping costs alone probably run at least $5-10 a quilt. Wouldn’t it make more sense to donate that amount to a disaster assistance fund? Or, if you’re really intent on giving quilts, contact Oklahoma guilds and send them some funds or materials to make quilts. The Oklahoma City Modern Quilt Guild is developing a plan to create auction quilts.
Then, there’s the question of how much the recipients can use a quilt as opposed to other items. Next, there’s the aesthetic issue. Some of the donated quilts are beautiful, but others look like they were made from old, cheap fabric. I cringe every time I hear a quilter say some fabric is good enough for a charity quilt. If I lived in Moore I don’t think I’d value a quilt made with colors and fabric I disliked. Same thing with those pillowcase dresses people keep sending to Haiti and Africa. Do they make anything a boy could wear?
I’ll reiterate my suggestion – make quilts in aid of natural disaster victims and auction them off online or in your community. Then, send the proceeds to whatever aid group you’d like to assist. That way the givers get to make something tangible and the recipients get to choose the kind of assistance they need most.