Making CSR Part of the Event’s Fabric

The American Quilter’s Society’s QuiltWeek events make it possible for participants to give back to the local community in the best way they can.

Author: Michelle Russell       

quilting booth at event

Members of the Racing Fingers Quilt Guild of Ormond Beach create fidget quilts for patients with Alzheimer’s, dementia, or traumatic brain injury. The booth was part of the American Quilter’s Society’s QuiltWeek at Daytona Beach, Florida’s Ocean Center in February.

The most meaningful kind of CSR activity at an event is one that is in complete alignment with the interests of its participants and furthers the mission of the host organization.

Here’s an example of how that was done seamlessly — and as a crocheter, I Iove that it comes from the fiber arts community.

girl holds fidget quilt

At QuiltWeek in Daytona, attendees of all skill levels were encouraged to create their own — or contribute to an in-progress — fidget quilt.

After a pause during 2021 due to COVID-19, QuiltWeek returned to Daytona Beach, Florida’s Ocean Center Feb. 23-26, the first of six annual shows hosted across the U.S. by the American Quilter’s Society (AQS), which has more than 70,000 members around the world.

“Like art at a museum,” Kate Sark, Ocean Center’s marketing and communications manager said in a release, “quilts are displayed throughout the 93,000-square-foot exhibit hall” along with exhibits inspired by everyone and everything from Diana, Princess of Wales, to the TV game show “Wheel of Fortune.” One exhibit, “The Ties That Bind,” featured quilts made from men’s ties.

The event includes workshops and lectures with instructors and a Best of Show competition along with other prizes, as well as a Merchant Mall, stocked with the latest in quilt-making supplies.

CSR activities are mainstays of QuiltWeek. In Daytona, AQS provided a booth and supplies for Racing Fingers Quilt Guild of Ormond Beach. The group creates small fidget quilts, complete with tactile and manipulative objects like textured fabric, spools, zippers, and buttons for patients with Alzheimer’s, dementia, or traumatic brain injury. “These patients have a symptom called ‘restless hands,’ and having the fidget quilts helps them remain calm and not disturb medical devices,” Linda Derryberry of Racing Fingers Quilt Guild told Convene. At the show in Daytona, attendees of all skill levels were encouraged to stop by the booth and create their own — or contribute to an in-progress — fidget quilt.

Racing Fingers Quilt Guild has an agreement with AQS each year to help them with the show at Ocean Center. In each destination hosting a QuiltWeek, a local quilting guild is asked to help with the show and staff a “charity booth,” Derryberry explained.

Related: Taking a Holistic CSR Approach

“At our AQS QuiltWeek shows, we always have some activity that ties in with different organizations in the community,” Bonnie Browning, executive show director for AQS told Convene. In addition to the fidget quilts initiative at Ocean Center, AQS worked with the Quilts of Valor Foundation, offering an info booth at the show and making a presentation of quilts to service members and veterans who have been touched by war. This is an initiative that will be part of every QuiltWeek during 2022.

Other charitable activities scheduled for QuiltWeek in different destinations include children’s comfort quilts in Branson, Missouri; quilts to be donated to Merryman House Domestic Violence Center in Paducah, Kentucky; and doll quilts donated to Santa Claus Girls of Kent County, Michigan, a nonprofit that collects holiday gifts for children of families needing help.

On AQS’ website, QuiltWeek is described as making “an indelible mark on the fiber art community.” To which we’d add, and on the local community as well.

Michelle Russell is editor in chief of Convene.

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