Photo by Jeannie Frey Rhodes

Candy Bergeron, The Giving Quilt

Everyone could use a little comfort now and then and, for Candy Bergeron, the best way to offer comfort is to give a homemade quilt. Bergeron has volunteered with the Giving Quilt even before the sewing circle incorporated and became a nonprofit organization in 2010.

At the Giving Quilt’s 2015 quilt show at the Lamar Dixon Expo Center earlier this year, the organization out-comforted itself. Giving Quilt volunteers displayed and later distributed more than 600 homemade quilts to 31 organizations in need of love, including charities benefiting wounded service members, foster children and domestic violence victims.

“There are so many people who are hurting that you can give just a little bit of comfort to,” Bergeron says.

Bergeron, 68, quilted with her grandmother as a child but didn’t take up the hobby again until her friends asked her to join their quilting circle in Gonzales as an adult.

“The friendships you make in quilting are friendships that last your whole life,” Bergeron says.

Inspired by a quilt guild member’s son serving in the Navy, Bergeron’s guild decided to make quilts for service members and donated them to Quilts of Valor, a nationally known nonprofit organization that sends comforting quilts to retired and active duty service members.

Bergeron’s quilt guild was so pleased with the 35 quilts they created that they decided to have a small quilt show to display their creations. The next year, the group—called the Stashbuilders—sent quilts to Quilts of Valor and to additional charities as well. Over the years, their exhibitions began to outgrow their venue space as the number of quilts jumped from 65 to 300.

When the group incorporated five years ago, Bergeron, a retired chemical quality assurance lab manager, filed the necessary paperwork and helped write the group’s bylaws. Today she serves as president. She has also designed the group’s Web site, which is responsible for bringing the group worldwide attention. Today the Giving Quilt has around 50 members with many more who attend sewing days.

In February, the Giving Quilt’s quilt show displayed 600 quilts, most of which were donated by non-members from across the country.  The organization ends each show by sharing the charity the quilts are destined for. Telling the audience members where the quilts will go is one of Bergeron’s favorite parts because it encourages people to find out more about these organizations.

“It really opens peoples’ eyes to what’s going on in the community and what a need there is for volunteers of all sorts,” Bergeron says.

The shows are now held bi-annually with the next show scheduled for 2017 at the Lamar Dixon Expo Center.

“It just really touches your heart when you get into this because all of these organizations are so worthy,” Bergeron says.

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Quick Glance

What do you love about the volunteer efforts that you are engaged in at the Giving Quilt?
I think it’s the wonderful people that I work with who are so excited and have so much energy. They energize me.
How is your organization making a difference?
You know there are so many big problems in the world. If you compare it to solving world hunger or world peace, it’s such a small effort. But I do know a quilt comforts people. You can wrap them in warmth like you’re hugging them and give them just a little bit of comfort.
What do you hope to achieve?
I want the Giving Quilt to be self-sustaining and I want it to grow and have more people get involved. When I’m gone, I just want there to be people to carry it on.

If you know someone who would make a great Woman with a Cause in 2016, let us know by emailing [email protected]!