By Barbara Kessler, TJJD Communications

When service-minded people collaborate, it’s amazing what gets stitched together.Quilts 9 2022 DebbieDeCampPatty

In this case, it was stacks of beautiful quilts.

Their makers recently delivered these mood-brightening, toe-warming lovingly crafted blankets to Ayres Halfway House, where they donated them to the youth so they could use a selected quilt while at Ayres and later take it home.

The receiving youth were so happy, they blanketed the delivering quilter, Debbie DeCamp, with thanks. And despite it being nearly 100 degrees that day, many of the youth wrapped themselves in the quilts, demonstrating their excitement.

“I’ve worked in a lot of volunteer positions over the years and had some pretty rewarding moments . . . but none like I had this morning! These young men were so appreciative, their excitement was contagious,” she told her fellow quilters later. 

“I cannot describe the look in their eyes when they shook my hand made direct eye contact and told me how much they appreciate what we have done.”

Fittingly, the quilting volunteers who had assembled to produce these quilts for Ayres House, in San Antonio, had named their group, “Stitching for the Journey.” They came up with that name to highlight their support for the Ayres’ teens as they journey toward a better life.

About 25 quilters have signed up to be a part of the group, with about five actively pitching to join the founders in making the quilts, DeCamp said.

DeCamp, a longtime volunteer for underprivileged communities, and Rebecca Rindahl, a San Antonio educator, selected the halfway house to receive the craftwork, because they saw the need.

DeCamp said she’d been working with a group that makes quilts for children and adults in hospitals, but felt that there were more than enough quilts going to these destinations.

“We had been looking for an organization to make quilts for that nobody else was serving,” she said.

Youth w new quilts on bunks in his shared room.They found it when Rindahl talked to an acquaintance who worked at TJJD. That woman put her in touch with Patty Garza, the volunteer coordinator for Ayres house.

The three got together and discussed how quilts would be such a perfect gift for the youth at Ayres, providing them not only physical comfort during their stay, but something to take home and keep.

Knowing the time and effort it takes to produce these quilts would be “a beautiful reminder of emotional comfort that people really do care,” Garza said.

Each quilt can take 20 to 50 hours or more to make and has a value of $300-$500, she said.

After their discussion, Rindahl and DeCamp reached out to fellow quilters for volunteers and organized “Stitching for the Journey.”

DeCamp encouraged her quilting volunteers by reminding them how much their work would mean to the young recipients. “As you piece your quilts remember each stitch is an encouragement for these young men,” she told them.

After weeks of piecing together these handcrafted textiles, the group delivered 14 quilts to the youth at Ayres on Sept. 1.

“The boys were in awe and excited to select the quilt of their choice and make their beds with this symbol of care and love,” Garza said.

“This was our way of reaching out and saying, ‘you are loved,’” DeCamp said.

Photos: Top right, Patty Garza and Debbie DeCamp with youth receiving blankets at Ayres House. Youth in a shared room with the newly received bright quilts on the beds.