One quilt, three blessings

Could I sew a baby quilt to donate to a good cause, my son texted – in two weeks?

At the beginning of February, my son Carlos sent me a text message asking if I happened to have made an extra baby quilt that he could purchase. He and some friends were organizing a benefit for a young couple who were adopting, and he wanted to donate a quilt to the silent auction.

More than 20 years ago, my husband, John, and I adopted Carlos and his older brother, Matthew, from Colombia. The fact that Carlos wanted to help others adopt a child pleased me. I wanted to affirm his generous spirit, but I didn't have any spare quilts lying around the house because usually I create quilts for the arrival of a specific child.

"Let me see what I can do," I texted back. If the woman who machine quilts my tops could squeeze another one in, maybe I could make this work. "When do you need the quilt?"

"By the 24th," Carlos texted back.

Only two weeks until the benefit! In the midst of reviewing galleys for a book and knowing that any day we would tap our maples and start boiling syrup, where would I find time to sew a quilt top? I put down my phone and started cutting out nine Ohio Star blocks in primary colors.

The machine quilter had once suggested that if I sent two small quilt tops that were the same size, she could baste them onto one long piece of backing and quilt them as though they were a single quilt. Because I had just finished sewing a top for another baby quilt, I figured my quilter could follow her proposed plan if I sneaked in another top for Carlos.

A week later, I sent both tops to the blessed lady. We conferred about the quilting pattern and thread color. She began to stitch, and within four days, a box arrived with the completed tops. My treadle sewing machine whirred as I added the binding to the benefit quilt.

A few days before the auction, Carlos received the quilt, and posted a photo on the Web page created for the benefit auction. He described the quilt and noted that it had been created by the mother of two adopted sons.

What neither Carlos nor I foresaw was that the young couple would fall in love with the baby quilt whose sale was supposed to add to their adoption fund. Once they traced their fingers over the yellow quilting of hearts and flowers, Carlos told me, they longed to wrap their little one in it. They said they could visualize the bright stars shimmering when they placed the quilt over their sleeping baby.

With an MBA in business and marketing, Carlos makes his living as a company sales representative. On the night of the silent auction, Carlos, knowing how much the couple loved the quilt, picked it up and wandered the hall, showing off the pattern and quilting to his friends who were consuming snacks and writing down bids. Employing his marketing skills, Carlos persuaded enough people to chip in $5 apiece so that, as a community, they could be the highest bidder and present the quilt to the grateful young couple.

After the benefit, Carlos texted me what he had done. His gesture reflected that he had observed how the quilts donated to our local Mennonite Relief Sale raise funds for others; at every auction, someone buys a quilt and then donates it back to be auctioned again, so that the quilt yields a double blessing.

I like to think of the little child tucked beneath a new quilt, a quilt that not only helped bring the baby home, but also drew together a community and made this mother newly proud of her son.

The day after the benefit, the sap began to run. I turned off my computer and headed to the woods.

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