Women of the Prairie Pine Quilt Guild are giving 100 children in foster care a chance at a happy memory through a quilt. Members have created the 100 quilts in the past year to line care baskets full of clothes and other necessities from Angels Wings Clothing Closet.
The impetus for the quilts came about approximately 18 months ago when the group was asked to create quilts for Angel Wings' 2018 Easter Celebration. The quilts ended up lining laundry baskets full of necessities for the foster children. Angel Wings requested 100 for this year.
"Last year we had our first Easter egg hunt for foster kids," said Jody Dishman of Angel Wings. "They had already made us some. ... It just worked out really well."
The guild is a membership-driven nonprofit that regularly creates quilts and decorative wall hangings as part of its service mission. Quilts and other decorations are provided to The Laura George Miller Help Center, Habitat For Humanity, Relay for Life and St. Mary's Hospital – Audrain dialysis patients.
Members can create a child's quilt in one week, depending on the design. While guild members mostly work from home, the group also gathers at Christi Hoffman's County Line Quilts to work on piecing squares and socialize. "We get more accomplished at home, because we gossip too much when we're here," said guild member Carol Wyss with a laugh.
The foster children served by Angel Wings may not have a grandparent to make them a quilt, Dishman said, so the work of the guild is filling a void. "These ladies are kind of like their adopted grandparents and giving them something super special that they can have forever," she said.
The children served by Angels Wings have been removed from abusive homes. While the work of the nonprofit usually is focused on a 100-mile radius, it serves foster children throughout Missouri and even some foster children from Illinois.
"We work with them to give them their basic needs," Dishman said. "A lot of times when they come into care, they may not have anything. Just the clothes on their back, unfortunately. So Angel Wings allows them to come get clothes."
The Easter Celebration was also created to relieve some stress on foster parents.
The Easter Celebration by Angel Wings is by invitation only, and all invitees are confirmed at the event. Other groups invited, apart from foster children and their guardians, include the Audrain County Sheriff's Department, Miss Missouri contestants and Bikers Against Child Abuse, among others.
"It's really difficult for foster parents to go out to community events, especially Easter egg hunts, and not run into the biological parents,” Dishman said. “That makes it really hard, because it can make it difficult for the kids. … Last year, I was able to see these foster parents just relax and just enjoy and the kids were able to run around and enjoy. Everyone felt so safe, and it was nice to just see everybody relax."