PAOLA — They could be called club members, charitable givers or even part-time counselors.
But the ladies who gather most weeks to make quilts at the Paola Adult Education Center would just prefer to be called the Saturday Sewers.
The group began with just three members in the winter of 2011 when Chris Wheaton, Karen Ulanski and Janna Renner started quilting together. Wheaton and Ulanski both work at the Paola Adult Education Center, and Renner is the former owner of the Li’l Red Hen Quilt Shop in Paola.
The group has grown quickly during the past eight years and now has maxed out at 14 regular members and a handful of part-time members.
The quilters have been a vital part of the Paola Adult Education Center by assisting with fundraisers and helping support students.
Most recently, they made 20 quilts to go with the 20 beds for children made by members of the Osawatomie Rotary Club during a community service project Saturday, Aug. 17.
The beds went to local children in need thanks to Sleep in Heavenly Peace’s KS-Kansas City South Chapter, which provided the materials.
The Paola Rotary Club is planning a similar bed-building day Saturday, Sept. 28, and the Saturday Sewers plan to donate another 20 quilts for that project.
Ulanski said each donated quilt is valued at about $200, which puts the total value of their donation at more than $8,000 in materials and supplies.
Charitable work is nothing new for the Saturday Sewers, though. They also are all members of the Miami County Quilters Guild and have worked on charitable projects through that organization. That’s in addition to the quilts they make for events at the Paola Adult Education Center.
Ulanski said they don’t consider it work.
“We love to quilt,” she said. “This is a stress relief.”
Dorothy Schneider, who is the newest member of the Saturday Sewers, agreed that talking with her fellow members is the best part of the group.
“It’s therapy for me,” she said. “These girls are just wonderful.”
The ladies meet most Saturdays to quilt, and during the week they keep in touch using group text messages.
“When I was making baby quilts I needed pink flannel,” Patricia Noel said. “When we ask each other for something, we almost always find what we’re looking for.”
Members of the Saturday Sewers include: Janna Renner, Becky Maimer, Shasta Reynolds, Betsy O’Shea, Dorothy Schneider, Elaine Elliott, Karen Ulanski, Ellie Owens, Patricia Noel, Lena Christie, Chris Wheaton, Linda Rogers, Chris Ertz and Pat Lacy.
Other part-time members of the Saturday Sewers are Lillie Lacy, Charley Lacy, Mirannda Saffer and Evie Saffer.
Several long-arm quilters also donated time and materials to actually quilt each quilt for the Rotary bed projects. Those individuals are Becky Maimer, Verna Garrett and Beth Dawson.