Fabric of the Hospital: Volunteers Sew Comfort
Sherry Snodgrass is on a mission. She wants to make sure all kids who spend a night at Cincinnati Children’s are comforted by a soft, warm handmade quilt, so she’s making one for every bed, across our campuses – nearly 600 of them.
Sherry (pictured above, at far right, and at right with a quilt top) began donating handmade items three years ago. She first crocheted baby blankets and later sewed quilts after meeting fellow quilters at the first annual Community Sewing Day in 2013.
“I went home, got a quilt done that night and said, ‘I love this,’” remembered Sherry, who continues to quilt from home and attends the event each year. “This just shows us that we’re not alone. There’s so much support for the children.”
Volunteer Services organizes the Community Sewing Day each year as a day that sewers can gather together at the hospital and connect with each other and the hospital itself.
“It’s a chance for people who donate sewn items but aren’t able to become regular hospital volunteers to feel more of a connection to the hospital and our patients,” said Amy Biersack, director of Volunteer Services.
Weaving History and Tradition
The Sewing Room and its seamstresses have been an integral part of hospital operations since the beginning. Supported by the Cooperative Society, the tradition dates back more than 120 years.
In the late 1800’s members of the Cooperative Society sewed essential items like gowns, sheets, diapers, bandages, play clothes and toys for patients, nurses and doctors. When supplies started running low in the late 1960’s, the auxiliary organization appealed to community members and local churches in Cincinnati asking for a “mending force” of volunteers to make contributions.
“Imagine all the stiches that have made up the fabric of our group to this day,” said Nancy Sorg, president of the Cooperative Society. Her organization enlists help from a tight-knit group of talented and dedicated hospital volunteers who make regular visits to the Sewing Room at Burnet Campus. And donations continue to come to the medical center from community sewers and church groups.
Volunteers hand make a virtually endless list of items to meet the current needs of all areas of the medical center. Some of the most common items include medical play dolls, quilts, blankets, bibs, caps, mittens and booties.
“We also take requests from caregivers for individualized items that couldn’t be purchased anywhere for children with unique special needs,” said Diane Seitz, sewing room coordinator. Other custom specialty items include things you may notice around the medical center like equipment covers, shuttle flags and the vests that volunteer therapy dogs wear during visits.
A Community Effort
Fabric and other materials are made available to volunteers through funding by the Cooperative Society. For quilts, volunteers receive a kit with 15 strips of cloth in assorted colors and patterns. A finished quilt is 48 inches long by 42 inches wide.
Sherry Snodgrass exchanges completed quilt tops for new kits once per month and has gotten so good that she can turn one quilt top around in under an hour. Averaging about 10 per month, Sherry estimates she’s had a hand in creating about 150 quilts for kids to date, but not without lots of help.
“It takes everyone to make a quilt,” she said. “From the Cooperative Society who supplies the materials to the ladies in the sewing room cutting strips, ironing the tops and putting on the backs, to the caretakers who order and deliver the final product to kids in the hospital. This is a community effort.”
Volunteers and Donations
The Sewing Room at Burnet Campus is open Monday through Thursday from 8 am to 3:30 pm on the first floor of Location F. To become a hospital volunteer in the Sewing Room, contact Volunteer Services at 513-636-4396 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you’d like to donate items that are sewn at home or outside the hospital, please contact Diane Seitz at 513-636-4573, or at email@example.com, for guidelines and more information.