A month after Japan's devastating earthquake and tsunami on March 10, Americans and people all over the world continue to help with the relief effort through direct monetary donations to agencies like the Red Cross -- as well as organizing local benefits.
Half Moon Bay residents are pitching in, from individual efforts such as photographer Regan Daniels (who is donating a portion of her profits for a month to relief efforts), to businesses that hold events like , where diners were encouraged to come in and eat on designated as a fundraiser.
Quilters around the U.S. are also doing their part, by stitching up comforting and colorful offerings that those living in shelters can wrap around themselves as protection from cold nights or the elements.
"It's a gesture of care," says Shannon Sinnock, a Half Moon Bay quilter who has been working alongside others for a few weeks to get as many quilts made as possible completed. Quilts will sent to Japan in pallets by East Bay-based initiative .
News reports estimate that over 150,000 Japanese have been living in emergency shelters since the natural disasters struck.
"When people go through tragedies, they have elementary needs. You can use a quilt as a pillow, a blanket...you can dry off with it, cuddle a baby, and it provides a home and shelter from the elements," Sinnock said.
Joined by about half a dozen local women making quilts for the cause, Sinnock said she first found out about the project through the Quilters Newsletter and has also gotten guidance on the project from the e-quilter website. A member of Half Moon Bay quilting group Piecemakers by the Sea, Shannon says that she and the others (including professional quilter Lori Atwood, Kristin Sutro and Sue Garret) will soon have about five quilts ready to deliver to Berkeley, the official drop-off location in the Bay Area for the Quilts4Japan project.
Quilts4Japan will mail off quilts by the pallet, along with a personal note handwritten from the creator of the quilt to the recipient. The note will be translated into Japanese before being mailed off.
Sinnock and Half Moon Bay resident Laura McHugh have also gotten attendees involved in making quilts -- despite the fact that some artists have never made one before.
A few weeks ago, Sinnock and McHugh started working on a quilt together. With squares of turquoise and purple fabrics stitched together in a square quilt block -- along with a contrasting quartet of buttons featured around the center as accents -- the quilt has a Japanese aesthetic sensibility that is perfect for the spring cherry blossom season.
Sinnock raided her personal stash of fabric to use in the the quilt.
"I've been having fun, letting go of perfectionism and that someone is going to judge this," Sinnock said. "I'm putting it into the giving and kindness mode, and finding that the quilt is almost better when made this way," she said.
"I was telling my daughter I’m really loving it [making this one]. And my daughter said 'All the better to give it away,'" Sinnock said.
According to Sinnock, Quilts4Japan is aiming to send 1000 quilts overseas quickly. "We're working on a quick turnaround - so the quilt top will take 4 days – one day to cut it, one day to piece, one day to stitch, and one day to bind. And that's pretty quick," Sinnock said.
"It usually it takes months or years to make a quilt - so this is fast. People are really putting energy into it, realizing the need," Sinnock added.
"Making the quilts is a way of honoring the people," she concluded.
The Half Moon Bay Piecemakers and other quilting groups are accepting donations of cash in lieu of a quilt, and will use the funds to pay for the finishing of quilts or quilts in progress destined for Japan. If you would like to donate cash or a check, please contact Lori Atwood, owner of Sew Beautiful Quilts. For more information, call (650) 591-7706.