LEHI, Utah — After Russia invaded Ukraine, a Lehi couple was eager to help with humanitarian aid and started a project to comfort Ukrainian refugee children with handmade quilts. The outpouring of donations from quilters in every state, and KSL TV viewers, has been overwhelming, they said. Now, they are headed back to the Ukrainian border Tuesday with an expanded mission.
Their project is called Wrap Ukraine with Quilts. For six months, they’ve been getting quilts into the hands of Ukrainian refugee children at the Polish border. On Tuesday, they’re headed back to the Ukrainian border with more than 30 helpers, each of them carrying two 50-pound bags loaded with more quilts and quilting supplies.
“We started in March and thought we were going to get a couple hundred, maybe 500,” said Gina Halladay.
But after six months, she and her husband, Hal, have received more than 10,000 quilts — 11 tons worth — and they keep coming.
“Quilters are givers, and people have responded and have sent us quilts from all 50 states and three different countries,” Gina said.
A woman in Mapleton has donated dozens. A quilter from California drove in yesterday and dropped off 150 quilts. That’s just a couple of the many stories of selfless donations for the cause.
“Quilters have told quilters have told quilters, and we get packages every day,” Gina said.
A QR code attached to each quilt allows the recipient to contact the quilt maker, if they choose. So, the Halladays and the donors know the quilts are appreciated by refugee children and their families.
“The messages are the fuel that keep us going, because one quilt wrapped around one person, we’ve seen that it makes a difference,” she said.
The Halladays have hand delivered quilts on two previous trips. They are headed back Tuesday with 32 volunteers to set up a sewing workshop in Poland.
“Have the refugees come and teach them some basic sewing skills to make hair bows, and zipper bags, and backpacks and things that they could sell to earn some money,” Gina said.
If they can save some money, they can get out of the refugee camps.
An Afghan refugee in Poland who serves food to Ukrainian refugees helped set up the workshops.
“He’s the one that said, ‘Do you think you could put a sewing workshop here for us?’ That was his idea,” Hal said.
So, they raised money for 15 sewing machines that they will leave behind in Poland, along with more than one ton of donated supplies.
“So they’ll have fabric and zippers and threads for a long time, until they need more. We’ll get them more,” Hal said.
The Halladays admit, Wrap Ukraine with Quilts has taken over their lives and changed their lives in wonderful ways.
“We are committed to this,” Hal said. “This will be our life’s work.”
They now hope to wrap the world with quilts, reaching out to other countries as the need arises. They are already making plans for outreach in Pakistan following devastating flooding there.
They learn more about the value of a handmade quilt to a person in need as the project grows.
“Not something to keep you warm,” Hal said. “But something to show that someone cares about you, sees you, that you matter, and that’s been a remarkable part of it.”
The couple plans to keep this movement going to help others in need of comfort elsewhere around the world.
To get involved, click here.
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