2012-12-14 / Community

Quilts are made for caring effort

Sewing group provides blankets to Caring Unlimited
By Tracy Orzel
Staff Writer


Susan Lundgren of Kennebunkport has been quilting for 35 years. In 2008, Lundgren made three quilts by hand for children who are involved with Caring Unlimited’s transitional housing program. (Tracy Orzel photo) Susan Lundgren of Kennebunkport has been quilting for 35 years. In 2008, Lundgren made three quilts by hand for children who are involved with Caring Unlimited’s transitional housing program. (Tracy Orzel photo) KENNEBUNKPORT – When cartoonist Charles Schulz created the popular Peanuts series, he created an unlikely companion for one of his characters.

Linus’ blue security blanket is an icon and a statement about the human condition.

Blankets are a symbol of warmth and security, which is exactly why the Ladies At the Edge of the Sea sewing circle quilted 28 of them for families who belong to Caring Unlimited’s transitional housing program.

The program provides subsidized housing to victims of domestic violence in York County.

In 2008, Susan Swanson’s minister at Evergreen Covenant Church in Sanford suggested members of the congregation find an organization to align themselves with and spoke of Caring Unlimited’s work.


Susan Swanson and her sewing circle, Ladies At the Edge of the Sea, sewed 28 quilts this year for children involved in Caring Unlimited’s transitional housing program. The organization provides assistance to victims of domestic violence in York County. (Tracy Orzel photos) Susan Swanson and her sewing circle, Ladies At the Edge of the Sea, sewed 28 quilts this year for children involved in Caring Unlimited’s transitional housing program. The organization provides assistance to victims of domestic violence in York County. (Tracy Orzel photos) Swanson said, “In my heart I just knew that it must be very sad to be a child and not be able to have anything of your own. When they came in they had to leave everything and I began making quilts (for them). I made 11 that first year.”

With 11 more quilts to make, Swanson’s friends at Evergreen Covenant Church asked her if they could help. Swanson, who lives in Kennebunk, was grateful for the extra hands.

The following year, the Ladies At the Edge of the Sea, which is affiliated with the Evergreen Quilters Guild, took on the charge.

Approximately 25 women from Kittery to Biddeford meet once a week and the first Tuesday of every month at Atlantic Hall in Cape Porpoise to sew items for themselves and others.

Besides making quilts for Caring Unlimited, the women also sew catheter bags for the Veteran’s Home in Scarborough and placemats for Meals on Wheels.

“We quilt all day long,” said Swanson.

Callie Lavoie lives in Wells and has been a member of the group for six years. Lavoie said she enjoys the sense of community she feels when she contributes to programs like Caring Unlimited.

“We think about the children that are coming to the shelter. We look forward to doing this project every year,” said Lavoie.

Kennebunk resident Eleanor Dickens also contributed a quilt this year.

“I enjoy quilting and I like doing things for people, hopefully to make them happy. If they’re in need and that helps them, that’s even better. I know through a personal friend what those women and their children go through. If this makes them feel better, I hope it does,” said Dickens.

On average, each quilt takes a month to make, though that may vary depending on the size.

Every year Swanson calls Caring Unlimited in August or September to get the age and gender of the children who will be receiving quilts so the woman can size them appropriately. This year, recipients ranged from 1 to 17 years old.

Once the quilts are made, Swanson attaches a Christmas card with the name of the woman who sewed the quilt.

Swanson then brings the blankets to her church for the minister to bless them. After, the congregation puts their hands on them to offer their own prayers and blessings.

Because the facility is locked to keep the families safe, Swanson must call ahead to let the staff know she’s coming.

Families can stay in Caring Unlimited’s transitional housing program for up to two years.

“Transitional housing is a goal-oriented program. We provide the women and their children with apartments here,” said Audrey Beach, the transitional housing and services co-coordinator at Caring Unlimited.

“We set up a set of goals for them to be working on. A lot of the women who live here are going to school,” said Beach. “They’re working towards getting a better education so when they leave here they’re in a better place to be able to provide for their family.”

In addition to transitional housing, Caring Unlimited also provides emergency shelter and legal services.

Beach said the children are very grateful for the quilts.

“They really love them because somebody put a lot of work into them and they can tell that they’re handmade and because they’re made individually. They’re made just for that specific child. They’re very appreciative.”

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