by Suzanne Labry
Donation Quilts for Pulse Orlando Victims
In the early hours of June 12, 2016, a gunman ended the lives of 49 people and injured 53 others at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, the deadliest mass public shooting in modern U.S. history.
As soon as Alissa Lapinsky, president of the Modern Quilt Guild of Orlando, heard about the tragedy, she knew she had to do something to help.
“We have LGBT members in our guild. Even though I didn’t personally know anyone who was injured or killed at Pulse, I—like many Orlando guild members—am just one person removed from lots of people who were directly affected. Quilts are comforting during difficult times and that’s why I decided that a quilt drive for those touched by the Pulse shooting would be the way to go,” she says.
Blocks for donation quilt for Pulse Orlando victims by Allison Lapinsky.
She initiated the drive by posting the guild’s invitation to donate blocks, quilt tops, and finished quilts on Instagram. By the next morning, she had received responses from quilters all over the world.
She contacted the founding Modern Quilt Guild (MQG) in Los Angeles, which serves as a clearinghouse of information for more than 170 guilds around the world, and they provided a downloadable form for
donors to complete.
Donations of supplies started coming in from fabric manufacturers such as Robert Kaufman, Andover, Windham, and Spoonflower; threadmakers Aurifil and Fil-Tec; and batting manufacturers Warm & Natural, Dream Batting, and Hobbs. StoryPatches donated fusible labels featuring a heartbeat and a rainbow. Local Orlando shops sponsored “sew days” and offered to let quilters to use their machines, fabrics, and thread to make blocks for the project. Quilt shops throughout the U.S. agreed to act as drop-off points for completed items.
“I was hoping to get 102 quilts—one for each injured survivor and one for a significant person in the life of each of those who were killed,” Lapinsky says. “But the response has been so great that we now hope to give a quilt to Pulse employees, first responders, hospital personnel, and others who were personally hurt by the horrifying event. In fact, it looks like we will have enough quilts for everyone impacted who would like one; there will be no vetting process for recipients.”
As of this writing, 900 blocks, 25 tops, and 60 completed quilts have been donated, with more coming in at a rate of five finished quilts, three to five tops, and 150 blocks per day. In addition to quilts, tops, and blocks from quilters all over the United States, items have come in from Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Israel, Mexico, The Netherlands, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom.
Lapinsky, who has sewn and done crafts all her life but only started quilting two years ago, has been awed by the response.
“The outpouring of love and support we have received is nothing short of incredible and we are overwhelmed with it,” she says. “There aren't words to describe how we felt knowing that this sort of atrocity happened in our backyard and now, no words to describe how supported and loved we feel with the help of quilters around the world.”
If you are interested in participating, click here for details.