Hutterite woman gives one-of-a-kind gifts

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A Hutterite woman gave L’Arche members in Winnipeg a unique gift earlier this year when she spearheaded an effort to make each one their own personalized quilt.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 19/12/2016 (2062 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

A Hutterite woman gave L’Arche members in Winnipeg a unique gift earlier this year when she spearheaded an effort to make each one their own personalized quilt.

Anna Maendel, a member of the Fairholme Hutterite Colony in Portage la Prairie, oversaw the creation of 27 quilts in total. Each quilt was created to match the recipient’s interests, whether it was cars, music or the Winnipeg Jets.

Maendel presented the quilts to L’Arche members at a special event this past September.

Hubert Pantel L'Arche resident Ross and Barb Pantel (left) display the Scottish-themed quilt made for and donated to him by Anna Maendel.

“I was a bit taken aback by how much pleasure I got out of (making the quilts),” says Maendel, a 63-year-old grandmother of six. “I almost felt like I had a personal connection to all of these people.”

L’Arche Winnipeg is part of an international organization that provides homes for people with intellectual disabilities.

The project began when Maendel offered to make a quilt for a L’Arche member that she met through a mutual friend. She asked for the man’s interests and set about making a transportation-themed quilt.

Hubert Pantel / Winnipeg Free Press Files Anna Maendel (left) explains the quilt project to former homes co-ordinator of L’Arche Barb Pantel.

Upon learning that there are 27 L’Arche members in Winnipeg living in six homes, Maendel decided to make a custom quilt for each person.

She asked for each member’s name, interests, favourite colours and the size of their bed.

Then she enlisted the help of more than a dozen quilters and seamstresses to source the right fabrics, colours and designs — and to help make the quilts.

A shipment of fabric at Lakeside Colony near Headingley was a boon to Maendel and her fellow quilters. The materials came from a Fabricland in Saskatchewan that had to be cleared out due to smoke damage.

Thanks to the vast assortment of materials at Lakeside, Maendel was able to purchase fabrics for quilts going to people interested in coffee, sunglasses, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and more.

At the same time, friends found panels at thrift stores and in their homes that they knew would work well for the quilts.

Maendel’s sister found a panel of a cowboy roping a steer, perfect for a rodeo-themed quilt.

Another friend gave Maendel a Scottish tea towel that worked perfectly for a quilt going to a Scottish man.

“It was just really one miracle after another, how things came together in this whole project,” Maendel says, adding that her aim was to make quilts that were comfortable and washable. “They’re not showpieces. They’re quilts that are made to be used.”

L’Arche members were thrilled to receive their quilts, says Liz Gauthier, volunteer co-ordinator for the organization.

“It was a really big thing for them because they were recognized so individually,” says Gauthier, adding that she was touched as well. “It just made me feel very appreciative of the fact that they cared that much about what the members in our community received.”

The Hutterian Brethren originated in Austria in the 16th century. Absolute pacifism and community of goods are key practices for the Hutterites, who live in rural communities made up of 50 to 150 people.

Maendel says that she and her fellow quilters were happy to volunteer their time and donate their resources to make the quilts.

“As Hutterites, we have so, so much,” Maendel says.

“We’re so privileged living in the country that we do, that it just lends itself to reaching out and helping others.”

If you know a special volunteer, please contact aaron.epp@gmail.com.

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