When Annette Hitchins answered the call, she had never made a quilt in her life. “I didn’t know how to sew a quilt,” says Annette, a retired school principal’s secretary who moved to Lambton County from Windsor in 2007 and promptly joined the Caring Quilters of Lambton Shores. “I had sewing experience, but I wanted to learn how to quilt. Anyone who joins the group doesn’t need any sewing experience; we’ll show them how to do it.”

The Caring Quilters of Lambton Shores is the brainchild of Marilyn McCordic. “She was the driving force in starting this initiative,” Annette says. “She was a volunteer for Victim Services of Sarnia-Lambton and she sent out a message to a newspaper in this area and received 11-12 responses from women who wanted to help her. It was her vision of making quilts that got all of this started.”The groups motivation to make quilts is quite simple. “The purpose was to comfort victims when Victim Services was called out to a fire scene or a traffic accident or if someone had died in their home,” Annette says. “The Ontario Provincial Police would call Victim Services and those people that responded would have quilts in their cars. Because people were in shock, it was a way for those volunteers to offer a little bit of comfort by giving them a quilt to put around their shoulders. It is quite amazing what Marilyn accomplished by doing this because hundreds and hundreds of people have been comforted by these quilts.”

The Caring Quilters gather every Wednesday at 10 a.m. at the Community Centre in Port Franks. “As soon as people arrive, we get our tables out and get the fabric out and we start working,” says Annette, who is the group’s recording secretary. “We work in different zones. We have women who like to make the tops and they concentrate on that. There is another group that ties the quilts and another table of ladies who do the hand binding of the quilts. From the year 2000 to approximately a year and a half ago, when COVID-19 hit, we made around 1,500 quilts.”The Caring Quilters does no fundraising and instead relies on donations to make the quilts. Each member – usually 21 or 22 per week – chips in a dollar every Wednesday and the group’s treasurer puts the donations into a bank account to be used at a later date. The purchasing of batting for the quilts is their largest expense. “Lately our donations of quilts have expanded because we make so many of them,” Annette says. “We have a number of them sitting in cupboards and they don’t do anyone any good when that happens. It was a group decision to start giving them to Ronald McDonald House in London and also to Strathroy-Caradoc Victim Services. When the floods hit Gander, Newfoundland, quilts were sent there. And when there were the Fort McMurray fires in 2016 we sent quilts. Our women who make these on a regular basis are heroes as far as I am concerned.”