December 14, 2012

Area quilters give back to the community


---- — PLATTSBURGH — Many home-bound senior citizens will have something extra on their dining tables this holiday season, thanks to the Champlain Valley Quilters Guild of New York.

The group, comprising 150 avid quilters, recently sewed and donated 400 place mats to the Clinton County Nutrition Program for the Elderly, which delivers low-cost, customized meals to area senior citizens who are unable to leave their homes.

The place mats, made in various blends of color and quilt block patterns with various techniques, were delivered to each of the Nutrition Program’s nearly 400 participants just before Thanksgiving.

“Everybody that did make one had a really unique idea,” said Mary Lou Beauharnois, who is in charge of public relations for the guild.


The project began right after Christmas last year, when Quilters Guild President Lorene Forttrell thought making the place mats would be a good way to utilize fabric scraps left over from her previous projects.

But when she learned just how many place mats she would need to make in order for each of the Nutrition Program’s meal recipients to have one, she turned to her fellow quilters for help.

“We had a really good response from the guild,” Beauharnois said.

In fact, the response was so good that the quilters ended up making 32 extra place mats that were donated to the Samuel F. Vilas Home in Plattsburgh.

“The members (of the guild) just continually amaze me,” Forttrell said.


The project is one of many charitable endeavors taken on by the quilting group, which crafts and donates quilts and other items for such organizations as North Country Mission of Hope in Plattsburgh, Horace Nye Nursing Home in Elizabethtown, the Clinton County Christmas Bureau, Camp Ta-kum-ta in South Hero, Vt., and the Clinton County Person in Need of Supervision Diversion Program.

The quilters have also been making heart-shaped pillows for breast-cancer patients at CVPH’s Fitzpatrick Cancer Center for the past several years.

“The breast-cancer patients use them to put under their arms on the side where the (surgery take place),” Beauharnois said.

Several guild members also donate quilts to charities of their own choosing.

“They’re just a giving, wonderful, wonderful group of people that really really care about others,” Beauharnois said of her fellow quilters.


Within the guild are several sewing groups, including the Monday Night Cut Ups — Sandy Thornton, Pat Bleakly, Karen Collins, Deborah Patnode and Sharon Svendsen — which crafted a quilt that will be raffled off to benefit the Literacy Volunteers of Clinton County. Irene Bow of Bergen machine-quilted the coverlet for the guild.

Literacy Volunteers provides free one-on-one tutoring to county residents who wish to improve their literacy skills.

The guild doesn’t make quilts upon request to benefit local organizations, rather it sews one every two years and selects a group to benefit through an application process. The chosen nonprofit sells tickets, and the winner is drawn at the guild’s biannual Quilt Show — that event will take place in October 2013 at the SUNY Plattsburgh Field House.

Nearly 600 tickets, which cost $1 each or $5 for six, have already been sold, according to Beauharnois.

“We’re off to a booming start,” Forttrell said.


The Quilters Guild typically meets the second Wednesday of every month at Stafford Middle School in Plattsburgh. The January meeting, however, will take place on Jan. 16. Doors open at 5:30 p.m., and meetings begin at 6 p.m.

Anyone interested in joining the guild, Beauharnois said, is invited to attend a meeting.

In addition, the group will hold a sew-athon on Saturday, Jan. 19, at the United Way building on Tom Miller Road in Plattsburgh for its latest project, which involves making stuffed-animal pillows, or “pillow pals,” to be given to children at area hospitals and shelters. The event, open to guild members, will take place from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

For more information about the Champlain Valley Quilters Guild of New York, visit

To view the quilt or buy raffle tickets, contact Literacy Volunteers at 564-5332.

Email Ashleigh Livingston: