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Worthington quilt guild making fidget blankets for local people with dementia

Stash and Scrappy Quilt Guild members Pat Cam (from left), Becky Berning, Jean Meester, Betty Pomrenke, Eunice Ailts and Mary Rydeen display some of the fidget blankets their guild is making for people with dementia. (Julie Buntjer / The Globe)

WORTHINGTON — Zippers and snaps, buttons and clasps, crinkly sounds and different textures are filling the space of 24- by 28-inch fidget blankets being created by members of the local Stash and Scrappy Quilt Guild.

In their latest community service project, the women of the guild are making nearly 62 fidget blankets — lap-sized activity-filled creations — for dementia patients at Crossroads and South Shore care centers, Ecumen Meadows, Golden Horizons and Adrian Country Cottages. Once those orders are filled, they plan to make more fidget blankets specifically for children with autism and special needs.

“If there are homebound (individuals) and caregivers would like them for their loved ones, they will need to contact us,” said Becky Berning, who is leading the project for the guild.

Berning discovered fidget blankets while looking for a service project for the guild.

“My mom had dementia and I remember her always fidgeting,” Berning said.

Once she had the idea, she turned to Google and Pinterest for images and ideas to help inspire quilt guild members as they begin to craft the fidget blankets.

On Thursday, several members of the guild gathered to sort through stashes of fabric in all sorts of colors and textures, as well as bags and boxes of items they’ve either collected or purchased for the project. Approximately half of the guild’s 40 members will be making the blankets.

Berning said each unique blanket will be made for either a man or a woman, and guild members will choose the embellishments to add into their project.

“We have zippers, beads to slide, lace, tools, bolts and washers, keys and our desire is to find some fishing tackle (without the hooks, of course),” Berning said.

Each blanket needs to be washable, and Berning said they can be secured inside a pillow case for washing so none of the parts are damaged. They are being made with flannel backing so as not to slide too easily off someone’s lap, and some will have ties sewn on them so they can be secured to a wheelchair.

“I think there’s a need out there for people in the nursing home to have something like this,” said guild member Eunice Ailts. “There’s nothing to do when you’re in a nursing home. I think this will really get their minds going.”

Fellow guild member Jean Meester said the fidget blankets will be something to keep residents occupied.

“My mother wandered in a home and I think this would keep them from wandering as much,” she added.

Mary Rydeen busily searched through bags of items for the fidget blanket she plans to make. Finding a little purse that snaps and a small doll, she was coming up with ideas.

“I spotted out a purple zipper and some alphabet beads — I think I might spell something,” Rydeen said as Berning jokingly told her not to pick out all of the good stuff.

Quilt guild members will get their fabric and choose embellishments at their Nov. 19 meeting, and Berning hopes they will have some of them ready for distribution before Christmas.

The Stash and Scrappy Quilt Guild tries to do a service project each year. It has made quilts for Project Linus for several years, created fleece capes for veterans and in 2016 did the Quilts of Valor project, giving local veterans patriotic quilts they made.

The guild welcomes any quilters and prospective quilters to join the group at their first meeting in January. The group meets the third Monday of each month.

Julie Buntjer

Julie Buntjer joined the Globe newsroom in December 2003, after working more than nine years for weekly newspapers. A native of Worthington, she has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism. Find more of her stories of farm life, family and various other tidbits at The Farm Bleat

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