The Panola Squares Quilt Club and the Busy Quilters Guild of Panola County just finished a project in partnership with Day1Bags.org, which is a 501-C3 non-profit. Their goal is to make sure that every high school senior that is in foster care is able to receive a bag with their name on it when they graduate.
Hunter Beaton, the founder of Day1Bags, says that most foster children that age out of the foster care system in Texas, only have a trash bag to put their belongings into when they leave foster care.
Last fall, Hunter approached Randall Mitchell with the Facebook group Texas Quilters to ask if he thought that there would be enough interest in his group to make a twin size quilt and matching pillowcase for the 622 graduating high school seniors currently in the foster care system in Texas. Randall and Hunter came up with the guidelines for the quilts. Randall posted the idea on the Texas Quilters Facebook page, and within 90 days the number of volunteers to make the quilts was met. The volunteers kept stepping up, and the number rose to 684 to include the college graduates as well as the special education graduates.
In February, there was an idea being discussed about coming up with a bag to keep the quilt and pillowcase together while in transport. This is where the local quilt clubs of Panola County decided to take on the task of making 684 bags. Randall posted on the Facebook page that these clubs were willing to sew, but they needed one yard cuts of fabric to make the bags.
“It was like Christmas morning every day when the delivery trucks and the US Postal Service would drop off deliveries at my door” said Debbie Pierce, the local contact for the project. “Texas quilters have the biggest hearts!”
Approximately 20 members of the local quilt clubs began sewing the bags and met March 24 and 25 at the Rehoberth United Methodist Church Activity Building to join forces to really push the project forward.
Leading up to the two workdays, Billie McGraw, the 90-year-old mother of Debbie Pierce, was visiting in her home and wanted to contribute to this project. So she began cutting the cording needed for each bag to make it drawstring. In two weeks time, she cut over 2,000 yards of cording. This made it possible for some of the members to begin threading cords into the bags as they were made.
The last of the bags were delivered to Randall Mitchell on April 8, just in time for the bags to go to Austin to the Capitol for a picture in the rotunda. Before the bags with the quilt and pillowcase were delivered to the regional coordinators all over the state of Texas, Day1Bags.org paired them with a backpack with the student’s name embroidered and containing a $100 gift card, a water bottle, executive notebook, pen and many more items all donated to this project.