Making quilts to make a difference
Area quilter donates to local causes
By Holly Neumann
Giving of her time and talent to help raise funds for area organizations is something Barb Hansen, of Ogdensburg, does not think twice about doing.
“If I have a talent, then why shouldn’t I give,” she said. “It’s a community thing. We are all meant to take care of our communities.”
Hansen has been a quilter for more than 20 years.
“I love the process,” she said. “Each quilt is its own unique journey.”
Seven years ago, she donated her first quilt to the Ogdensburg/St. Lawrence Emergency Medical Services (EMS).
“My first one was a T-shirt quilt,” she said. “I usually use Harley Davidson T-shirts. You cut them apart, but then sew them together. They are easy to make and have gone over well.”
Since then, her quilts have become even more elaborate.
“The one I did for the Manawa Area Veterans Freedom Park, I started getting a little artsy on that one,” she said. “I did a lot of research and wanted to make sure everything was correct.”
The quilt represented each branch of the United States military, had two soldiers wrapped in an American Flag and even used pieces of uniforms from area soldiers. It was a design Hansen made all on her own.
“It challenged me,” she said. “But when an idea pops in your head, you run with it.”
Causes Hansen has donated to include music programs from area schools, police, fire, EMS and civic organizations.
“I like to stay local,” she said. “Anything civic minded or educational for kids. Although I have donated as far away as a hospice program in Arizona.”
The Iola-Scandinavia High School Band was one group that received a donation.
“This quilt is spectacularly designed for our band and truly beautiful,” said Band Director Jacob Martin. “To get a donation of something from Barb really means a lot to me and says a lot about this community. This quilt fundraiser puts us one step closer to our goal of getting new marching uniforms, and I could not be more grateful for that.”
The drawing for the band quilt will take place on May 14 during the annual I-S Fine Arts Festival.
John Smith, who represents the Manawa Area Freedom Park, said the quilt they received brought in more than $1,800 for the cause.
“When Barb first approached me about making quilts for our events, she had so much energy and you could see the love for quilting in her smile and face,” said Smith. “I know that she put every ounce of herself into these quilts and that is shown every single time she hands me one and tells me about the design and what she put into it.”
According to Smith, when she handed him this year’s quilt, she said that one will be difficult for her to give up.
“I make sure that I let her know that this quilt would not be just given away and that we would make her proud,” he said. “She is truly a community-minded person and a blessing to have as a friend.”
Hansen admits she is surprised by the amount of money her quilts bring in and is overwhelmed by the praise she receives.
“You don’t know what your work is worth until someone says, ‘Oh my goodness, that is fantastic,’” she said. “It gives me my 15 minutes of fame.”
She is currently working on a quilt to donate to the Manawa Police Department for a fundraiser to purchase tactical gear for their law enforcement officers.
“I could spend eight hours a day doing this,” she said. “This is so rewarding to me.”
Hansen donated seven quilts in 2016. Each one takes her between 80 and 100 hours to make and has a label on it, so the winners know where the quilt came from.
“It makes me feel good, knowing that I can make a difference,” she said.