WCR PHOTO | CHRIS MILLER
Marie Parent and Cécile Pahud carefully piece together material for a warm quilt
EDMONTON — Four women from St. Thomas d'Aquin Parish are providing warmth for some of the city's disadvantaged people.
Jeannine Amyotte, Pauline Piché, Marie Parent and Cécile Pahud get together regularly making comforters. They do not do it for themselves, but to donate to the less fortunate.
They have volunteered their time for five years, making more than 1,000 comforters, all of which have been donated to the St. Vincent de Paul Society. They do it for the fellowship and also for the sense of giving back.
Their workplace is Amyotte's basement. A sheet of plywood laid over a pool table is their makeshift workstation where the four of them go to work stitching together fabric.
The women were reluctant to call their creations quilts because they know that a single quilt can be a work of art that takes months to finish. Theirs are made at a much swifter pace. If all goes well, the women complete five to seven comforters in a day.
To them, the comforters represent warmth and love and home.
"The comforters are to comfort those who are cold. It's more than a blanket," said Amyotte.
"We love putting pieces together, and it's really not a contest of any kind. Our main objective is that they're large and they're warm," said Piché.
They started making the comforters in January 2006, working from November to April. On Jan. 15 they donated their 1,000th comforter. All of the comforters are queen size or larger. This equates to about 5,000 metres of fabric and 2,500 metres of six-ounce batting.
Most of their comforters have gone to the St. Vincent de Paul Society, which in turn gives them to needy people in the city. Some have been given to other charitable agencies and a few have even gone overseas.
Part of the impetus is that many women buy fabric with the intention of making quilts, but then they never do, so they pass on the unused fabric to the four women.
"For myself, it's really nice to be able to recycle fabric that would otherwise not be used. It's hard to think that some people are cold," said Amyotte.
"If we weren't doing this to help, we would be doing something else. I don't know what it would be, but we'd definitely be doing something," said Piché.
A cellar in Amyotte's basement is a storage place for the fiberfill and fabric. Almost all of the fabric is new, either donated or bought at low prices. They always need more material, preferably remnants of upholstery fabric.
Sometimes the St. Vincent de Paul Society gives them fabric, and after they have made about 25 comforters, they donate it right back.
"It's pure therapy for us. This is our retirement, and we have to do something after we retire," said Amyotte. "It's very therapeutic. I love fabric and I love to sew."
Working as a team is another vital element of what they do. "Togetherness is important. It gives us a chance to visit and talk," said Amyotte.