Helping others one stitch at a time

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Members of the Rio Blanco Stitchers displaying some of their handiwork. (Left to right) Luanne Stromer, Sue Irwin, Amanda Schmidt, Connie Hughes, Peggy Shults, Linda Jones, DC Collins, Melinda Parker, Jan Keller, Stephanie Oldland and Barbara Phelan.

MEEKER | The Rio Blanco Stitchers met Dec.18 at the Meeker Public Library to make receiving blankets and lap quilts for a couple of the group’s selected charity projects. From early in the afternoon to late that night 12 ladies worked tirelessly to bring joy and comfort to beneficiaries from the newest stages through the latter stages of life. Their primary task that day was making receiving blankets for a Wichita, Kan., orphanage at which Melinda Parker’s daughter Christie Wheeler volunteers. Wheeler had shared with the group the orphanage’s need for new blankets.

This isn’t the first time the Rio Blanco Stitchers have gathered to contribute to a good cause. They are also known to donate lap quilts for all the HopeWest-Meeker patients and new residents of the Walbridge Wing at Pioneers Hospital.

“We have given at least 100 comfort quilts for the people and their families in our community,” says group founder Jan Keller. The group has been meeting since 2004, after Keller and her husband moved to Meeker and wanted to join a group similar to one she sewed with in Wyoming. Each year since HopeWest-Meeker started they also donate a Christmas quilt to the annual HopeWest Foundation Gala for the silent auction. Some of Keller’s favorite projects over the years have been friendship quilts where they exchanged either squares or strips of fabric and used the same pattern, resulting in very unique quilts. The group usually meets on Tuesdays with anywhere from 18 to 20 sewers and quilters with various degrees of skill.  All are welcome to join and the group enjoys catching up with one another while giving back to their community one stitch at a time.