KINGSTON TWP. — Project DJ quilters set down their stitching needles and stepped away from sewing machines for a night to celebrate the completion of 10,000 quilts on June 9.
“We are thrilled to reach this milestone,” said Sharon Wolyniec, a founding member.
Project DJ, also known as Project Donate Joy, is comprised of a group of 40 women who push past their pin-pricked fingers to stitch and sew quilts for children in area hospitals and those facing traumatic times, said Judy Gober, a founding member.
The nonprofit group formed in October 2003 after members were inspired by a quilt given to a 15-year-old Montgomery County child who was battling brain cancer, Wolyniec said. The young man, who was a grandson of a friend, took his quilt to cancer treatments as a source of comfort.
The women wanted to replicate the gesture for children in Luzerne County. Utilizing space in the basement of the Trucksville United Methodist Church on Knob Hill Road, the quilters meet to create handmade blankets.
Project DJ’s log book shows in the first two years, from 2003 to 2005, 812 child-sized quilts were made. The quilts are 40 inches wide by 50 to 60 inches long, said Mary Joan Meehan, a founding member.
As new members joined Project DJ, the volume of finished quilts grew. In 2007, the group made 577 quilts, and in 2008, they completed 1,000.
The group reached a milestone of 10,000 quilts completed on May 16.
“One of our members took the time to figure out if all the quilts we made were laid out, it would equal about eight miles,” Meehan said.
Quilts are donated two or three times a year to the following agencies: Children’s Service Center, First Hospital, teenage unit; Geisinger Wyoming Valley Hospital, children’s unit; Maternal & Family Health Services; Hershey Hospital Children’s Heart Unit; Luzerne County Children & Youth for newborns and children going into foster care; Project MOM of the Luzerne Intermediate Unit; Horsham Clinic; McCauley House; Luzerne County Head Start at Beekman Street and Plains Township Center; Kirby House Shelter of the Salvation Army; the Shiner’s Hospital; individual requests for terminally ill children or adults, and for victims of vehicle accidents, fire and other traumas.
“It is astounding to us that there are so many families and children in need,” Wolyniec said.
The women would not have been able to reach the goal if it were not for generous donations of fabric, thread and other materials.
“We are very fortunate to have a lot of fabric donated,” Meehan said. “Our biggest expense is batting. (Rolls) of batting can cost us $2,000 to $3,000 a year.”
Members also make and sell crafts at local craft fairs to help defray expenses.
The hard work is all worth it when the ladies deliver quilts to the various agencies and see the faces of their recipients. Meehan shared some of the recorded heartfelt notes Project DJ received:
• “Thank you so much for the beautiful quilt you made for our little boy. He has Down syndrome and recently had heart surgery. We were so touched and blessed to receive such a lovely gift.”
• “You really made a little girl smile with the beautiful quilt that was made especially for her. She has a long hard road ahead of her, but it is kind deeds such as this that help along the way.”
• “The quilts filled a great need for the children at The Children’s Service Center. We have shared all the quilts with children who are victims of trauma and who have had major challenges. Knowing that someone took the time and effort (to create the quilts) has been seen by the children as a labor of love.”
Project DJ meet from 9:30 a.m. to noon Mondays and 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Thursdays at Trucksville United Methodist Church, 40 Knob Hill Road, Trucksville. For more information, call Mary Joan Meehan at 570-823-1456.
Project DJ also meets on the second and fourth Tuesday in Tunkhannock. For more information, call 570-836-2530.