‘Blanketeers’ bring a special warmth to hospitalized children

By Brenda Maguire
For Journal Register News Service

Every Monday afternoon, a room in The Heritage of Green Hills living community’s clubhouse turns into a factory of sorts.

A group of about ten women find themselves seated at tables piling through fabric after fabric after fabric to make quilts.

At the same time, some women are at a different table working on hats. There is fabric cut into different sized squares everywhere.

“There are several quilters in here who quilted where they came from, so now we’re all together,” said Pat Kostenbader, one of the quilters.

On June 5, the group delivered 58 quilts and 52 hats to sick children at St. Joseph’s Hospital on Bernville Road in Reading.

“I think they just love them,” said Rae Evans. “Depending on the age I would think they are grateful to have them. I think the mothers are, too.”

The women, known as “The Blanketeers,” began quilting in 2011 and have produced 133 quilts and 150 hats this year for the children at St. Joseph’s. This was their third trip to the hospital to drop off their quilts and hats.

Blankets will go to newborns, toddlers, young children and teenagers and they will all get to keep the blankets when they return home from the hospital. Sadly, the women are not able to see the children receive the blankets.

“We sometimes take them in and the receptionist takes them. A couple times we met the Director of Volunteer Services and she talked to us,” explained Kostenbader.

In addition to donating the quilts and hats to the children, members of the group are also viewing their Monday afternoons as a great social time.

“I didn’t know any of these people when I came and now I consider them my friends,” Kostenbader said.

Evans noted that the group is constantly trying to get more people to join.

“Not only do we work on the quilts, but we have fun chatting,” she said, adding that sometimes the group has cake or cookies while they work.

For Helen Katerman, quilting with the group gives her a chance to give back to her former employer. Katerman worked in the admissions office at St. Joseph’s.

“I enjoy it, I do the sewing in my own room,” said Katerman, who is still using a sewing machine from 1957.

Kostenbader added that is important for the surrounding community to know that the residents of The Heritage are staying active.

“You can be old and you can still be productive to society,” she said. “That’s the goal of many of us is to show the community we can contribute and can have fun.”

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