Made with Love

Since The James Stitching Sisters was founded nine years ago, an army of quilters has sewn and distributed over 8,000 quilts for patients at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James)—each stitched together with love.

Founded by Joanne Lester, a volunteer at the OSUCCC – James and senior researcher in the Department of Psychology at Ohio State’s Wexner Medical Center, The James Stitching Sisters had a noble goal: to provide handmade quilts that are stitched—not tied—for breast cancer patients receiving chemotherapy. Over the years, the effort has expanded to include quilts for Ohio State’s University Hospital East, women receiving chemotherapy for gynecologic cancers, children receiving radiation therapy, the thoracic cancer survivorship clinic, walker bags for patients at the Martha Morehouse Medical Plaza, and diversity-enhancement projects at Ohio State’s University Hospital East.

Initially a small group of quilters met in Lester’s basement, but as the group attracted more volunteers, they were able to secure an office space in Dublin, Ohio—donated initially by Frank Kass, and now, following the sale of the building in 2007, by Nationwide Realty Investors. The sewing center serves as headquarters for the volunteers, who gather year-round to make quilts that are “stitched together with loving stitches, not perfection,” says Lester. The quilters have formed strong bonds, including supporting their own members who have been diagnosed with cancer.

Hundreds gathered for the organization’s 10th annual Quilt Day, a day of quilting, socializing and fun door prizes donated from a variety of businesses. Still more volunteers work on quilts from their homes or with quilt guilds throughout the state. Last year, volunteers donated over 18,000 hours; this year the group surpassed the 20,000-hour milestone.

“We couldn’t do this without donations,” says Lester. Every contribution is crucial, from the operational grants awarded by the William H. Davis, Dorothy M. Davis and William C. Davis Foundation, and the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, to the gifts from individuals and the in-kind donations of fabric from businesses like Craft Americana/Connecting Threads and Longaberger©, and the donated office space from Nationwide Realty Investors.

Despite the hard work that goes into the quilts, Lester notes that the volunteers receive “way more than what we give.” She cites the many thank-you notes and words of appreciation from patients who have received both physical and emotional warmth from the quilts.

Wrote a patient recently who is in the midst of treatment for breast cancer at the OSUCCC – James: “Ladies, I am so grateful for your generous gift. Your time and effort involved in making my gift are appreciated with a sincere heart. It is truly a beautiful gift, mainly due to the fact that it was sewn with LOVE.” For Lester and the hundreds of quilters who make up The James Stitching Sisters, messages like this make it easy to keep stitching.

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