Courtesy photo and Angel Carreras Quilt: Julie Siegel, Assistant Principal at Juan Cabrillo who lost her home in the Woolsey Fire received a quilt.

As the Woolsey Fire stretched across Los Angeles County, burning down homes and irreversibly changing lives, many Santa Monicans stepped up to help out. Some raised money, some held comedy shows, some housed evacuees where they could. One local group, however, has now made something handmade and special to help those still recovering.

The Santa Monica Quilt Guild, a charitable quilt-making nonprofit, recently produced over 25 quilts for families in Malibu affected by the Woolsey Fire. The guild handed blankets to a SMMUSD representative to distribute to families on Wednesday, March 13.

Quilt blankets made ranged from sofa quilts to bed quilts, with sizes for babies, toddlers, teens and adults. Guild members said quilts can take anywhere from a few hours for small, simple designs to weeks or even months with larger, more intricate designs. All quilts were constructed by hand with some assistance from sewing machines

Judith K. Hartman, a 10-year member of the over 20-year old guild, spearheaded the donations.

According to other guild members, Hartman conceived the idea, reached out to partners and culled all the quilts together largely on her own.

“We do a lot of philanthropy and we wanted to do something locally,” Hartman said in a phone call before the donation. “We did something for Sandy Hook victims, Ronald McDonald House, we’ve sent quilts to Japan and other parts of the country and the world, but this is our backyard. We wanted to help our neighbors.”

In addition to making many quilts on her own, Hartman sought help for where to donate the handmade quilts and found an ally in the Santa Monica Malibu Unified School District.

Juanita Devis, community liaison for the district, says she was happy to get the school district involved.

“I received an email from [The Santa Monica Quilt Guild] asking if we’d be interested in accepting the quilts … we have staff and families that are still suffering. I had to say yes.”

Devis would later pick up the colorful, handmade quilts at the guild’s donation ceremony, located at the First United Methodist Church, off Washington and 11th.

A pew emblazoned with the word “Hope” again and again greet visitors to the church. Hope, Hartman says, is what she hopes these quilts bring to victims of the fire.

In a speech that drew applause and cheers at the donation ceremony, Hartman said that quilts have been an integral part of American History, with our foremothers creating quilts out of necessity.

“Today,” she continued, “we have the luxury to be able to sew quilts for creativity, artistic expression, philanthropy, and utility… We hope these quilts will bring a little comfort and pleasure into the lives of some of the fire victims.”

Devis and Isaac Burgess, Malibu Pathway Director, commended the guild for their positive contributions.

“Everyone has said how beautiful the quilts are,” Devis said. “They all tell me the stories of how they used to have one from their grandmother and it got burned in the fire. Now, they have a new one.”

“We are pleased that another group has provided support to Malibu neighbors who were victims of the Woolsey fire,” Burgess added. “The Santa Monica Quilt Guild’s donation of dozens of quilts that will be shared with our Malibu families and staff is heartwarming and very much appreciated. There has been a tremendous outpouring of donations and support from Santa Monica community members and organizations and we thank them all with gratitude.”

As of now, a continuous distribution method for the quilts is being finalized, a SMMUSD spokesperson said.

While those details get hammered out, Hartman says she and her guild members will continue making quilts for families in need and more.

“Being charitable is our goal, our mission. We’re a nonprofit, that’s what we do.”

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