Archive for Thursday, November 29, 2007

Sending Greensburg warmth

November 29, 2007

When Judy Johanning heard about the tornado that ravaged Greensburg, she donated money to help.

But the Baldwin City resident wanted to do more.

"I just wanted to do something for the people," she said.

Johanning, a quilter, got to work assembling and sewing quilts for the residents of Greensburg, the town of about 1,400 that is rebuilding after the May 4 tornado reduced much of the community to ruins.

Johanning spread the word to friends, family and fellow quilters. And now, after months of work, she has created and collected more than 40 quilts. The quilts will soon make their way to Greensburg.

"I just hope that people will find comfort in these quilts and know that other people care about their loss," she said.

Johanning said she understands the challenges facing Greensburg residents. Years ago, her parents' home was destroyed in a fire.

Her initial goal for the Greensburg residents was to send 10 quilts.

"When we started, it was going to be such a small thing and it's just kind of ballooned up," said Wincel Jehle, a Baldwin City resident and member of the Maple Leaf Quilters Guild of Baldwin City.

Johanning initially brought the plan to the guild whose members gathered together to work on the quilts. Johanning's family also contributed. Her daughter assisted and a sister-in-law in Maryland sent her contribution.

Other helpers included Lawrence Memorial Hospital employees and members of First Church of the Nazarene.

The quilters have contacted Mary Sweet, administrator of Kiowa County Memorial Hospital, to assist in finding a way to distribute the quilts.

Sweet, whose own home was destroyed in the tornado, said the quilts will be used.

"It's getting really cold," she said. "There's always a need for blankets."

Sweet gave her own situation as an example. She wasn't able to salvage blankets in her home because small bits of insulation clung to the cloth.

"I know there's going to be a need for them," she said.

Cathy Miles, president of the Maple Leaf Quilters Guild, said she's happy to know that the gifts will fill a need.

"My feeling about a quilt is that's a hug for somebody that you can't quite touch personally," she said. "Maybe our little effort will let them know that we're proud of them and we're supporting their efforts to rebuild their town."

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