Student quilters revive lost art with help from Orchard Valley Quilters Guild

Fifteen quilts fashioned in Mrs. Presley's textiles course among dozens donated to Kelowna hospital

  • Jan. 20, 2016 7:00 a.m.

Snuggled amidst some 15 quilts made by the students in Pat Presleys textiles course at RSS are members of the Orchard Valley Quilters Guild Dorothy Northrup and Diane Kapty.

At a time when most of us are immersed in the latest and greatest technological gadgets there are at least some classrooms around the Central Okanagan filled with students learning to build their own creations the old fashioned way.

And the big benefactor—aside from the kids that are learning skills like quilting—are children in need in the community.

Fifteen quilts fashioned by Grade 10,11 and 12 students at Rutland Senior Secondary are being donated to the Kelowna General Hospital neonatal unit, thanks to the help of the Orchard Valley Quilters Guild.

It’s the latest in a series of donations to KGH over the past years where RSS students have made more than 60 quilts and donated them to the hospital.

“If you have a special needs baby in Kelowna, it has to go into an incubator and it’s a very hard situation,” explained teacher Pat Presley. “But they put the quilts that we have made over the incubators and then when the baby gets to go home, they will take the quilt with them.”

The Orchard Valley Quilters regularly visit and donate supplies to Presley’s RSS textiles course—an elective course—as well as other similar courses offered in schools like Okanagan Mission and Mount Boucherie. The quilters guild consists of about 100 local quilters and is continuously supplying those in need in the community with quilts, trying to make as many as 250 per year. They donate them to the neonatal and chemotherapy wards at KGH or to other community groups such as RCMP victim services to hand out to families in need.

“We give donations wherever they are needed,” said guild member Dorothy Northrup. “It’s even been suggested the we could give each Syrian family that comes to the area a quilt to signify their arrival here.”

A series of individual squares fashioned into a larger piece, quilts have a lot of meaning and can be very individualized. Given as gifts they are significant mementos, explained Northrup.

Watching dozens of students working on a craft like quilting warms the hearts of the two Orchard Valley Quilters, who will take the quilts and deliver them to the hospital on behalf of the students.

“I’m excited for these students because it will bring richness into their lives,” said guild member Diane Kapty. “To make something with your own hands is entirely different than buying something. This gives me hope that it’s not all about electronics.”

Each year as part of Presley’s class, students each design a square that is made into a large quilt and auctioned off to one student in the class. It’s a tradition that Presley began but someone else will have to continue as the textiles teacher is retiring after this year.

You can find out more about the Orchard Valley Quilters Guild online at kelownaquilts.com

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