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Sewing love in eastern Kentucky


Evelyn Morgan kept hearing accounts about how hard life was in eastern Kentucky after flooding last summer swept away houses, cars, possessions and people. The National Weather Service reported that the amount of rainfall in four days was historic.

Many of the those affected were relatives and friends of one another. One clung to the top of a refrigerator until help arrived. Another family watched a tiny creek rise into a deadly river and fill their home with 6 feet of water. “The stories touched my heart,” says Evelyn, a Grayson RECC consumer-member.

She grieved, but then she remembered a year earlier when wildfires destroyed parts of Oregon. As the owner of Quilt Heaven in Grayson, Evelyn had gifted her friends who lost their Oregon cabin with a quilt they treasured. 

“I wanted the people of eastern Kentucky to know that others love them, too,” she says. She decided to organize a quilt collection and reached out to friends.

Evelyn Morgan, owner of Quilt Heaven, Grayson, collected more than 1,100 quilts for victims of eastern Kentucky floods. Photo: Evelyn Morgan 

She called Carol Ann Fraley, the former CEO of Grayson RECC. Fraley enthusiastically agreed to help, and they started making phone calls to see how many quilts they could round up.

Evelyn figured the group could get around 50 quilts or so. A master quilter, Evelyn did not turn out to be a master estimator.

Warren Usher, general manager of Bolts and Quarters Quilt Shop in West Virginia, doubled her estimate when he offered 100 quilts his customers had made throughout the pandemic. Phyllis Hadley, of Quilts by Phyllis in West Virginia, challenged her contacts to see who could gather the most. The Mystery Harvest Quilt Shop Hop, a multistate quilting event, filled vehicles with quilts to meet the challenge. A group from New York brought 32 quilts. And the number kept rising.

The grand total: 1,118 quilts. Now, how would they be distributed? 

Paula Hensley, an eastern Kentucky resident, volunteered. She knew the people, the hollers and how to navigate, even with the flooding. Evelyn’s husband, Frank, filled 18 passenger cargo vans to get the quilts to those in need.

“We just finished delivering the last of them,” Evelyn said late last year. “The need was so great.”

The quilting community is “like family,” Evelyn says. “We share each other’s burdens and bless every quilt.” 

DEBRA GIBSON ISAACS writes about how co-op members and staff contribute to their communities.

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