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A group made up primarily of retired women is making the holidays a bit brighter for some low-income children.

Members of the High Desert Quilt Guild are making around 80 quilts for children attending NeighborImpact’s Head Start program at the Becky Johnson Center in Redmond. While the guild meets in Redmond, its 121 members come from all over Central Oregon.

The guild started three years ago, but this is the first time it has made the 3-by-4-foot quilts for Head Start students.

“We’re starting to find our niche as far as contributions to the Redmond community,” said Susan Bray, the project’s coordinator. “This gives us an opportunity to learn and discover techniques for smaller quilts.”

While the 100-percent cotton quilts are smaller than some of those the group members make, they still take a good deal of work, Bray said. It is worth it so the children know someone cares about them.

“Every day we get together and somebody brings in a quilt they spent 10, 15, 20 hours making at home for kids they don’t even know,” she said. “For kids in our community.”

Many of the 100 percent cotton quilts are make with colorful kid-friendly designs, from “Star Trek” to Western scenes.

The project isn’t cheap, with the materials alone costing $150 per quilt, in addition to the time put in, said Carrie Dulay, the guild’s vice president, who becomes president in 2019. For the Head Start quilts, BJ’s Quilt Basket in Bend donated materials. The guild is always seeking donations of material, even from non-members.

The quilts will go to 22 families of Early Head Start students, said Kim Brown, Head Start director for NeighborImpact.

“For most of our families, it really builds a connection to our community and to the program,” Brown said. “Many of our families are experiencing crisis, which causes trauma to the family unit and receiving such a nice, warm and cuddly gift can be such an uplifting moment.”

Brown praised Bray for getting Head Start involved in the quilting effort.

The quilt makers will deliver the quilts to Head Start in mid-December. While this is the first time the guild has made quilts for Head Start students, they have helped out the community in the past. They take part in the national Quilts of Valor program, which provides quilts to veterans.

Typically, around 60 percent of guild members attend the meetings, with some “snowbirds” heading south for the winter, Dulay said. The group has a main monthly meeting that features a guest speaker on the first Thursday each month, as well as two “sew days” a month, where less experienced quilters can learn from experts like Bray, who has been quilting for 51 years.

“We have a good crowd every month,” Dulay said.

Most members quilt at home at least two hours a day, Dulay said.

“Some of them do it from 8 to 5,” she said.

The guild’s events include a quilt show, the first of which was held in September at St. Thomas Academy. It’s primary fundraiser is an annual drawing for a large quilt each May.

Ruth Harris started quilting when she joined the guild when it started three years ago. It’s been a great experience for her.

“It’s rewarding to do this for other people when I do charity quilts, and I’ve met a lot of nice people in the guild,” she said.

— Reporter: 541-548-2186, gfolsom@