Quilt Marathon ‘travels’ from Marble Falls to border

Judy Pullen

Quilter Judy Pullen is using her gift of sewing and teaching through the Quilt Marathon, which helps babies of mothers legally seeking asylum. People make baby quilts that are sent to the Texas border. Staff photo by Jennifer Fierro

Trinity Episcopal Church member Judy Pullen organized a marathon, one that didn’t require much stretching beforehand.

Her Quilt Marathon brings together volunteers to make baby quilts for newborns of mothers who are legally seeking asylum in the United States.

And the quilters — some experienced, some who never picked up a needle and thread before — are in it for the long run.

Volunteers delivered about 70 quilts through First United Methodist Church of Marble Falls to congregations in the Eagle Pass and El Paso areas to be given to the mothers and children who needed them.

Labels with blessings are handwritten and sewn onto the back of each quilt.

Nancy McDougall, interim director of Christian Education at First United Methodist Church, helped organize donations of coats, jackets, gloves, diapers, and other such items. The quilts were a bonus.

“I’m a big believer in the importance of doing something,” Pullen said. “It was so much fun to sew with my friends. It was fun also to make something for someone else. It’s really a ministry of the hearts and the hands as far as I’m concerned.”

Quilters from area churches have been using Trinity’s parish hall, 909 Avenue D in Marble Falls, as their sewing room. The next Quilt Marathon is 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, December 21, at the hall. The group will meet again Saturday, January 11, at the same place and time.

“I think making a quilt for a baby four days before Christmas is the best thing to do,” Pullen said. “I think it’s most appropriate.”

Quilters brought their sewing machines, sewing kits, and material. Pullen has a suggested supply list.

LaDavaion Jackson
Twelve-year-old LaDavaion Jackson was curious about sewing and quilting, which prompted quilter and retired teacher Judy Pullen to teach the art during a recent Quilt Marathon. LaDavaion was one of several people who helped make 70 baby quilts that were given to babies of mothers seeking asylum at the Texas border. Courtesy photo

However, if those wanting to help don’t have gear or even know how to sew, they are still welcome.

“We have tables where they can iron,” she said. “They can cut fabric. If people bring sewing machines, they can machine quilt them and stitch on the binds.”

The Rev. Dave Sugeno, rector at Trinity Episcopal Church, said he is happy to see the different churches work together to help.

“I think it’s wonderful, not only that they want to help but they respect the dignity enough and want to do something for (the mothers and babies) that’s handmade,” he said. “I think that’s cool. I think it’s great that, instead of trying to duplicate the efforts, we got in with that together. I’m always really encouraged to see that kind of cooperation happen.”

The quilting ministry is nothing new to Pullen. She started a similar one when she lived in San Angelo almost a decade ago.

In 2008, 463 children were taken by Texas authorities from the polygamist Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints group ranch, located near Eldorado, and placed in foster care.

“I felt so strongly these children needed comfort,” Pullen said. “I know what comfort a quilt can be.”

She went to her priest at Emmanuel Episcopal Church in San Angelo, the Rev. Celia Ellerey, to ask permission to make quilts for the Eldorado children. Pullen and her crew made more than 460 quilts, and that ministry is still in existence today at the San Angelo church.

Pullen noted that, whether they knew how to quilt or not, people came to help. Some brought snacks and coffee; others offered blessings and prayers.

When she was a teacher, Pullen’s classroom was filled with quilts used as learning tools in social studies and language arts. In her final year of teaching, her second-grade students presented her with a quilt as a retirement gift.

“I treasure it,” she said.

As she thought about how a quilt gives comfort, Pullen said she believes teaching and working with her hands is a God-given gift she feels compelled to share.

She learned to make quilts from her mother, Irene Moore.

“I remember my mother tucking me in and tucking in my feet at night to keep me warm,” she said with a smile.

And in Pullen’s mind, baby Jesus in the manger was wrapped in a multicolored quilt handmade by his mother, Mary.

“I want these mothers and babies to know they’re cared for,” Pullen said as her eyes welled with tears. “I think it’s important for us to remember those stories. I think quilts are a part of that.”

Email Pullen at judyannie43@gmail.com for more information or to learn how to help.

jfierro@thepicayune.com

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