Saturday, November 26, 2011

Fundraising Quilts

AAI Family Tree Quilt - in progress
Recently, I had the pleasure of photographing a wonderful fundraising quilt for the Adoption Advocates International. I thought it would be a good blog topic because there is a long, intriguing tradition of fundraising quilts in the United States. Fundraising quilts were first made in the 19th century, and by World War I, communities all across the nation were making them. Many of these quilts were inscribed with names, often done in ink or with embroidery, and some included actual signatures.

American Legion Auxiliary Fundraising Quilt, Salem, Oregon, 1931
In these signature quilts, each donor would be represented with their name on the quilt, and completed quilts were often raffled off. Sometimes, raffle winners would donate the quilt back to the charity and it would be raffled again.

The 1931 American Legion Auxiliary quilt from Salem, Oregon, is a great example of this type of quilt. It includes a center medallion prominently featuring the Auxiliary logo, and rows of embroidered names around the medallion. Leaders of the organization received prime positions on the quilt, with names and titles appearing around the inner circle closest to the logo. Two names of deceased supporters appear with gold stars embroidered next to their names.

Spanish American War Commemorative Inscribed Quilt, c. 1915
Another terrific example is an inscribed red and white Spanish American War Commemorative Quilt found in Seattle. This quilt has 784 names including names of ranked military and notables such as Colonel Theodore Roosevelt and Clara Barton. Each block has a center disc with historical references to names of battleships and events in the Spanish American War. The quilt was made around the time of World War I, and is presumably part of an effort to raise funds for the war.

Adoption Advocates International, a Port Angeles, Washington based international adoption agency had a great idea for this year's fundraising quilt. For the past few years, AAI volunteer and quiltmaker Barb Patton has made an annual quilt to raise funds for Layla House, a child care facility operated by AAI. These quilts were raffled off and the proceeds supported the agency's humanitarian mission. This year, AAI is trying something unique and different - a family tree quilt.

Here's what the Family Tree looked like as an unfinished top
Supporters can add leaves and other elements with inscribed names

This quilt is waiting for just one thing before completion - the names of families and supporters on the leaves, branches, trunk and background. There are birds, butterflies, snails, squirrels, rabbits, and even shooting stars - and each supporter makes the quilt more fun and lively. Since I am adopted and have such admiration for my parents and those who adopt, I made a donation for a leaf with my family's name. November is National Adoption Month, so it's a great time to support AAI's efforts by helping them fill the landscape surrounding their beautiful family tree. To learn more about the AAI Family Tree Quilt, click here.

"On a Quilted Breeze" by the Oregon Coastal Quilters
"Before I-84" by the Northwest Quilters
Of course, I couldn't blog about fundraising quilts without mentioning the remarkable quilts being created all across Oregon. Sisters always has an amazing raffle quilt, and the incredible "On a Quilted Breeze" from the Oregon Coastal Quilters Guild was recently on display in Houston. My guild, the Northwest Quilters, is raffling off a sensational covered wagon quilt called "Before I-84" celebrating the journey across the Oregon Trail. For more info, click here.

So, the tradition of fundraising quilts is alive and well and today's quilters, taking a page out of the notebooks of their ancestors, are making creative, important quilts. If you see a raffle quilt or other type of fundraising quilt, I hope you'll participate in the benevolent tradition of beautiful and unusual American quilts. I know I do. I've got stacks of old raffle tickets. Maybe I'll get lucky one day. :)

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