Ina Spinks, president of the Langley Quilters’ Guild, drew the name of the winner in the annual quilt raffle recently. (Guild photo/Special to the Langley Advance)

Langley quilters save fundraising raffle after quilt show plans unravel

COVID-19 forced the cancellation of May’s quilt show which was more than a year in the planning

The Langley Quilters’ Guild had the plans for its annual fundraising raffle all sewn up in January. The draw would be during its quilt show May 8 and 9. Then the global pandemic struck and the local arts group had to rethink how to reach its goal.

“Our quilt raffle has always been a major fundraiser for our guild since 2002 when we opened our doors to one and all as a quilters’ guild,” said guild show chairperson Carol MacNamara. “This year our raffle quilt was another beautiful prize waiting to be won.”

The quilt itself was designed by Yvonne Menear and Faiza Elmayergi, the individual blocks made by members and Faith McLeod did the longarming (using a special sewing machine to sew the quilt top, batting and bottom together).

Ticket sales began in January, so when all public events were cancelled in March, MacNamara contacted the BC Gaming Commission to find out how to proceed.

“The option most favourable was to have members continue selling tickets through social media,” she said.

The draw took place on May 9 on the grounds of George Preston Recreation Centre with six people present and four eager cheerleaders, all social distancing. President Ina Spinks made the draw. Doe Gillis, raffle ticket manager, was able to deliver the quilt to the winner a couple of days later. The guild has about 250 members.

Prior to the pandemic, members were able to do some selling at venues and local “businesses opened their doors to us to sell tickets,” MacNamara added.

Though the raffle proceeds are down this year, the group will carry on with its community quilts which are distributed to various community groups in the Township and City, including the Gateway of Hope, Best Babies of Langley, and Langley Lodge.

“We give, in the course of any given year, we give hundreds and hundreds away,” she said.

Each member typically makes one quilt for donation per year with the guild supplying the raw materials. Sometimes up to half a dozen people will work on a given community quilt if the quilter needs help attaching the batting and backing or other steps to bring the piece to completion.

The raffle funds the materials for the quilts. The guild sells 10,000 tickets at $1.

“This year, because of COVID, we haven’t been able to raise anywhere near that,” she said. “We’re going to struggle a little bit.”

As well the guild relies on an annual $2,000 grant from the Township which it won’t receive this year, but MacNamara is confident it will work out as members remain committed to making community quilts.

“We can’t forget those who are less fortunate,” she said.

Many members will likely donate the supplies, and there are people in the community who contact the guild with fabric donations, she added.

The guild started planning for the 2020 show in March of 2019 but had to cancel it in this spring. As well the group members have not been able to hold their meetings. MacNamara said that as restrictions loosen, planning a guild meeting will be a challenge. The group would have to find somewhere that allows physical distancing and is big enough to accommodate the numbers. The daytime meeting often attracts more than 100 members.

Many of the members have turned to their quilting as a balm during troubled times. MacNamara said for her, it’s allowed her to catch up on the piles of projects.

“I was able to longarm 40 quilts,” she said. “Fifty per cent of those will go back into the community.”

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Members of the Langley Quilters’ Guild created a quilt that was raffled off to raise funds to make quilts for the community. Michelle Gallagher won the raffle. (Guild photo/Special to the Langley Advance Times)

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