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Christmas quilts bring yuletide comfort

December 24, 2019

Vicki Shultz, left, was delighted to receive a quilt from Pat Grenier. Shultz and 29 other residents in long-term care at the Innisfail Health Centre received the homemade quilts as Christmas gifts thanks to the sewing talent and generosity of Grenier. Photo by Leah Hennel

Vicki Shultz, left, was delighted to receive a quilt from Pat Grenier. Shultz and 29 other residents in long-term care at the Innisfail Health Centre received the homemade quilts as Christmas gifts thanks to the sewing talent and generosity of Grenier.

Innisfail quilter spreads joy as a ‘Santa’ for long-term care residents

Story by Heather Kipling | Photo by Leah Hennel

INNISFAIL — The spirit of generosity that lives year-round in master quilter Pat Grenier will be wrapping long-term care residents in warm holiday comfort this Christmas morning at Innisfail Health Centre.

Whether they have a festive fleece backing or a jolly mosaic of colours sewn across the cover, each of the 30 homemade quilts Grenier has donated to the facility, to be gifted to residents, lovingly embodies the yuletide spirit in every stitch of her thread.

“I enjoy quilting and giving back, too,” says Grenier. “Everybody I see, I try to give them a quilt.”

Grenier’s skill with a needle and thread grew from making clothes over the years, and has stretched into quilting over the last decade. Now, much of her spare time is spent collecting fabric and patterns for her workshop where she crafts her blankets.

“My favourite thing about quilting is mostly everything,” she adds with a grin. “I love to buy fabric so I have closets full of fabric that I can use to create with.”

Over the years, Grenier, a local resident, has donated her creations to organizations such as the Salvation Army, Central Alberta Women’s Outreach, the Women’s Emergency Shelter and Animal Services. This is her second year donating to the healthcare centre, although her first at Christmas time.

The quilts range from lap size — for those who want something cozy over their legs while sitting — to larger creations that drape a hospital bed. For residents without family, each blanket ensures no one goes without a package to open on Christmas morning.

“When (Grenier) phoned, I was expecting a quilt or two, and then she arrived with 30 beautiful quilts. It was incredible,” says Roxanne Stelmaschuk, site manager of Innisfail Health Centre. “I was really touched that someone would want to give back in such a way.

“We truly appreciate the community remembering our residents, especially during the holidays. Some don’t have family, so they wouldn’t have a gift to open aside from the little stockings we do for them. We want to make sure everyone has a gift — and these quilts help us do that.”

Grenier has seen first-hand how the gift of a blanket can positively impact people in hospital, as her mother received one in the last year of her life.

“Mom was in hospital over Christmas, and she got a little blanket from the Salvation Army. It was just a little fleece blanket, but she was just so excited that someone thought of her,” says Grenier. “I really enjoy being able to give that (joy) to someone else.”

In addition to the quilts, community generosity also ensures the spirit of Christmas fills the hospital, adds Stelmaschuk, who is grateful for the donations that fill stockings for all 79 long-term care residents, as well as stockings for others in acute care.

“It’s tough being in the hospital any day of the year, but at Christmas especially,” says Stemlaschuk. “Those who come into emergency, or who are in acute care, don’t plan to be here for Christmas, so we put together stockings for them with essential items that might come in handy.

We don’t want someone to be without.”