A trio of grandmothers in Meigs County are sharing their love one stitch at a time. Debbie Duvall, Robin Putman and Karen Hickman began Soothing Stitches in the fall of 2014 as a way of giving chronically ill children an extra bit of comfort during doctors’ visits.
Duvall says each quilt is tailored to each child’s interests, favorite colors and likes. “If they like Batman, we’ll make a Batman one. If they like Barbie, we’ll make a Barbie one.” The quilts are sometimes also accompanied by a book related to a child’s preferred character or to the quilt’s theme, and inside there’s a slip about Soothing Stitches and its mission.
Anyone can nominate a child. Soothing Stitches only asks that the family have some connection to the area. To be nominated for the quilts, a child must be younger than 18. Nomination is not exclusive to children with health problems, but also open to children who have experienced traumatic events. “We had a little girl whose mother
committed suicide and she was nominated by a family friend,” Duvall, says.
Duvall co-created Soothing stitches with Hickman and Putman to use what she describes as their God-given talents. “This is payback for allowing us to have healthy grandchildren and a talent to make these quilts. It has been very fulfilling, to feel like I’m actually doing something for these kids,” Duvall says.
Putman says she didn’t think twice about joining Soothing Stitches when Duvall approached her with the idea. Putman sees Soothing Stitches more as about caring and compassion than the quilts themselves. “It gave me the opportunity to spend time praying for that child and their family while I was cutting and sewing their comfort quilt,” Putnam says.
Amy Medley, Duvall’s daughter, says she has seen her mother upset for days after receiving “not so good news about one of her kids,” but she’s also seen her excited when she sees the children well.
Duvall admits that the children’s stories touch her emotionally and adds she often thinks about her grandchildren when working on some of the quilts. “We recently had a 2-year-old with cancer, and I have a 2-year-old granddaughter,” she said.
Since September 2014, Soothing Stitches has donated 160 quilts to children locally and in nearby states. Deanna Harlow’s daughter, Jillian, is one of the many children to be nominated for a quilt. Jillian was born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome. She received hers a month after being born.
Harlow runs a Facebook page for Jillian called Jillian’s Journey. She recently shared a Facebook post saying that at 17 months old, Jillian has spent about 290 days in the hospital and has had 14 surgeries. “Not all recipients have pages like Jillian. … It is heartwarming to families like ours when we see them share updates on Jillian. Their support continues even after they have sent the quilt,” Harlow says.
Harlow shared a photo of Jillian—a small baby wrapped in a blue light blanket lying on top of a quilt with yellow bordering and bright green patches with butterfly, floral and horizontal striped designs—when she first received her quilt.
Not all children Soothing Stitches donates quilts to have Facebook pages, but to Duvall’s surprise many of the parents post updates on the Soothing Stitches Facebook page.
“These ladies have a huge heart. It is a lot of work making one quilt let alone making as many as they do every year,” Harlow says.
A grandmother’s love knows no bounds and with every stitch the women share theirs. “Seeing what some of these families are going through really helps keep life in perspective. Something could happen to any of us at any time and we should always be extending a caring hand to others,” says Amy Medley, Duvall’s daughter.
To learn more about Jillian’s Journey visit, her Facebook page Jillian’s Journey; Soothing Stitches’ page to follow raffles and learn more about the children.