KALISPELL —With every stitch, Pat Freebury honors a recipient she’ll never meet and a quilter she never knew.
More than 40 years ago, Pat’s parents lost their Thompson Falls home to a fire. Someone from their church gave them a quilt, which comforted them in their loss and then adorned a bed in their new home for decades.
“I always thought, I want to give back someday,” she said. “I had lots of fabric and just started making quilts.”
Pat donates the quilts to her local Red Cross chapter, which has given away 25 or so during the past couple of years. With so much time at home during the pandemic, Pat has finished 24 quilts already this year, with another three in the works.
“As fast as I can make them, they give them away,” she said.
The quilts go to people after home fires and, recently, to people whose homes were destroyed by a powerful storm.
“The gals tell me the tears just flow when people get the quilts,” Pat said. “It’s the first nice thing that has happened to them since the fire.
Lew Savik, a disaster response volunteer in the Flathead, has seen those tears firsthand.
“The quilts are so special when everything else has gone wrong,” he said.
The quilts are given with a little card that marks the quilt’s size. Pat sews infant-sized quilts to adult sizes. On the back of the card, she’s printed a heartfelt message offering her wish that the quilt may be “warming and comforting.”
“May the one who receives this quilt be cradled in hope, kept in joy, graced with peace, wrapped in love and know this quilt was stitched in love and prayer,” she wrote.
Pat doesn’t include her name, but a fellow quilter who lost her house to a fire tracked her down so she could send a thank you. It takes a fellow quilter to really appreciate all the work that goes into a homemade quilt.
Pat uses a variety of patterns to keep things interesting or to showcase a particular fabric. When arthritis forced a friend in her church to give up quilting, she passed fabric and thread onto Pat for the project. Pat recently used those fabrics for a dragonfly quilt.
“With help like that, it’s really been a community effort,” Pat said.
As for her parents’ quilt, which started it all, Pat passed it on to comfort another family in their moment of need.