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Siesta Key Thursday, Aug. 18, 2016 3 years ago

Quilting to cope; Residents build on quilting bond to benefit Pulse victims

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Siesta Key residents Sharon Stephens and Van Withey hope to help victims and survivors of Pulse shooting heal with quilts.
by: Amanda Morales Staff Writer

The friendship of Siesta Key residents Sharon Stephens and Van Withey is seamed together by quilts — from meeting at quilt shops to ultimately using the hobby as a method to unwind, have fun and cope with life’s challenges.

The two create memory and T-shirt quilts for friends to remember loved ones who died.

After the Orlando Modern Quilt Guild sent out a request to quilt shops to sew 102 quilts for survivors and families of victims of June's Pulse nightclub shooting, they felt it was a way they could give back using their talents. 

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Long-time friends Sharon Stephens and Van Withey bonded over quilts and wanted to help the victims in Orlando heal with these quilts.

 “I was horrified after Pulse,” Stephens said.  “I thought this could be anyone of use. There were mothers of kids there. We have very dear friends that are gay, family members. It could have be any of them.”

They started at their local quilt shop, the Cotton Patch on University Parkway. The idea was to have each member of their quilting group at the shop work on a square for a joint quilt. Withy and Stephens were so moved by the idea and had leftover fabric that they decided to make more. 

“We thought it was something we could do,” Withey said. “We started pulling our fabric and just took it from there.”

Withy and Stephens began with the idea of making hearts with the rainbow colors that symbolize the LGBT community. The result is two unique quilts that they have called “Love Has No Boundaries” and “The Colors of Love.”

Orlando Quilts
Sharon Stephens includes this phrase on the memory quilts she makes.

It took less than a week before the two quilts were done, and Withey was ready to hand deliver the quilts to Orlando. In all of her quilts, Stephens cross-stitches the phrase, "Those who sleep under a quilts are covered by love."

“We felt that we needed to do something,” Stephens said. “I needed to know that I have done and made a difference in someone’s life.” 

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