Saturday, April 02, 2011

Donation quilts

I've had questions again about donation quilts coming to Japan.

Wow, I never knew so many issues and opinions could come up over a simple wish to do good.

Many quilters (and knitters and sewers) are making items to send to Japan... I'm going to group these all together and call these donation quilts (though not all are quilts). The problem is, and always is, how to get the quilts where they are needed. The next problem is the cost of transporting the quilts from the quilters to the people they are intended for.

This may make people sad, but a quilt right now is not really "needed" in the sense that food and warmth and money is needed for evacuees' survival. Quilts are beautiful, comforting, and cheering but for northern Japan's weather, not particularly warm. Still, we all know that a quilt will encourage a child who has lost everything else, and give strength to a mother who takes comfort in knowing that someone cares about her and her baby. So quilts are important!

I'm afraid that just making quilts is not enough. It costs money to send the quilts and this is where a lot of us draw a line.

"The making of the quilts should be enough. Someone else, the government, the freight company, the Red Cross, should assume the shipping costs."

Maybe it should be that way but it isn't and when you think about it the government doesn't have money to get the country running again let alone assume shipping costs. Maybe the Red Cross too... I don't know about freight companies.

Quilt Tsushin, the magazine that is the Japanese door for quilters to send their donation quilts to, is asking quilters to assume shipping fees... which aren't too much if you live in the country and are donating one or two or five quilts. If you live outside of Japan and are planning to donate 100 quilts or more than this is going to be a tremendous cost... and some of you are having trouble getting your quilts to Japan.

I wrote to Quilt Tsushin yesterday and this morning received a nice e-mail from them. They are grateful for all the support of quilters all over the world. They, however can not assume shipping fees for quilts being sent to Japan. They suggest that American quilters send their quilts to Quilt Newsletter which seems to be collecting quilts and will send them to Quilt Tsushin. The only other suggestion would be to "mail" quilts to the Japanese government or the Japanese Self Defense Force as relief supplies. How you do that, I don't know... Quilts sent as relief supplies might not need shipping fees. But remember, quilts sent to the government might not ever get anywhere beyond boxes in storage. Not too many of the Self Defense Force units are going to appreciate the quilts or know how or who should get them... They would probably never get into Quilt Tsushin's hands.

Quilt Tsushin will take care that quilts they receive are used appropriately... babies would get baby quilts, children would get children's quilts, in evacuation centers no child would get left out etc... They can assure that the giving of quilts would be fair, so they still recommend sending the quilts directly to them or to the American Quilt Newsletter magazine.

That was what their nice letter said.

On the Quilt Tsushin website (again in Japanese) they ask for understanding that donation quilts will be used to provide comfort and support to evacuees. Over long term this may mean that money will be raised using the quilts.

Does everybody understand that? It means Quilt Tsushin has two goals. One, to give evacuees quilts that will provide comfort and, two, to raise money to help evacuees. So your quilt might be appreciated by a wanting Japanese child, (which I think is what we all imagine) or your quilt might be auctioned off at a charity rally (they didn't really say that but that's what I'm thinking) and money raised would be given to relief work.

For me it doesn't really matter. If a child would use my quilt then I am happy. If in an auction somebody bought my quilt for $30 or $40 then I would be happy too.

I finished making my first donation quilt for Japan yesterday. It is not very large... I decided I want to make others rather than work on a big one. Although my meandering stitch isn't great, it is passable. I used Sew Create It's idea and quilted in butterflies.

I will be sending it to Quilt Tsushin.

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