Summer of #QuiltsForPulse

As the summer draws to a close (though you couldn’t tell, with this obscene Florida heat), I’ve been reflecting on #QuiltsForPulse a lot. The beginning of summer, for those of us in Orlando as well as many people around the world, was marked by an event so tragic, it made history. I have gone through so many emotions and found myself in tears over this more times than I bear to count.

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Quilt top that I pieced with donated heart blocks.

Orlando has been fighting to come together, pick up the pieces, and heal.

As avid crafters, the Orlando Modern Quilt Guild here found healing through quilts, and the joy it brings to create quilts for someone who might really need some comfort. When our president announced the #QuiltsForPulse project, we were hoping we could get 102 quilts together — just enough for the victims’ loved ones and the survivors to each get one quilt. To us, it sounded like a huge undertaking. 102 quilts in just a few months!? We were crazy for even considering it! But we were more than happy to take on this project, and we called on the online quilting community to help. 102 quilts? Yeah, it’s a lot of work… but maybe a few people on Instagram would be willing to help. A block here, some batting there, and we could make up the difference.

And then the mail started coming in. And generous companies began donating fabric, batting, labels — you name it, we had it covered.

We still had to make quilts, though. We thought, cool, maybe we can expand to also giving quilts to the doctors who treated patients from Pulse that night.

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A quilt that I bound after it had been pieced and quilted by someone else

The numbers just continued growing, the quilts kept piling up, and our list of recipients now covers everyone involved that night — from the victims and survivors, to the police officers, paramedics, fire fighters, 911 operators and dispatchers, doctors, nurses…We are even looking into giving a quilt to our mayor, Buddy Dyer, whose response to this tragedy has been absolutely wonderful. Our list is up to 853 quilt recipients. And we have a quilt for each and every one of them.

In fact, we have more than enough. Our quilt count is up to about 1000 I believe, and we still have piles of blocks and supplies to be used.

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One of the quilts donated by the OCSO Communications Center

Just this past week, a call-taker from the Orange County Sheriff’s Office Communications Center brought in two quilts, signed by all of the 911 employees, to donate to our quilt drive. This communications center received the overflow of calls from Pulse that night.

Words cannot express the gratitude I have to my guild for organizing this, the online community for their donations, or for anyone who helped at all. I am humbled to have been able to participate in this project.

It’s hard to live in Orlando without constantly being reminded of Pulse. My heart breaks over and over for everyone involved: the victims, the survivors, the paramedics, the police, the hospital staff, the 911 operators and dispatchers, the officers tasked with removing the bodies while surrounded by the sound of cell phones ringing off the hook — families and friends trying to get in touched with their loved ones. I am absolutely in awe at the way our community has come together to heal, and I am honored and comforted to be able to work on these quilts, knowing that they will be given to everyone involved very soon. I bound this quilt today. Others were responsible for designing, piecing, and quilting. We are looking at over 1000 quilts to give away in response to the tragedy at Pulse in June. People from all over the world have donated and my incredible guild has worked tirelessly to organize and finish this massive project. I am so so humbled to be involved. @orlandomqg @themqg #QuiltsForPulse #quilt #quilting #modernquiltguild #orlandomqg

A photo posted by Alexis Brandenburger (@burgab0o) on

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