Saturday was one of those almost but not quite days for the Campbell County boys soccer team. Top-ranked and consensus favorite to win the Class 4A state soccer tournament, the Camels fell just …
FORT COLLINS, Colo. — Melissa Mangan had an idea she thought was small.
She wanted to contribute to High Park Fire relief, she owned a sewing store, and her brother suggested she could collect quilts.
Two days after the fire started Saturday, June 9, Mangan sent out an announcement in her store newsletter asking for donations of 12½-inch-square swaths of fabric.
To her surprise, she got much more.
"I asked for squares thinking we would complete five or six quilts," said Mangan, who owns The Sewing Circle in Fort Collins. "Now I'm getting squares, I'm getting quilt tops, I'm getting quilts that are almost completed."
People receiving Mangan's newsletter forwarded it across the country and internationally. Ever since, more than 16,000 people from across the U.S. and parts of Canada have contributed materials, leading to the completion of more than 150 quilts, with many more on the way.
Mangan said she's "flabbergasted" at the response, and that the project has grown bigger than she ever expected.
"Had I known that it was going to be this cool, I would have done it way earlier," Mangan said.
In addition to quilts, the project has donated 80 pillowcases, three quilted bears and a quilted frog to the American Red Cross through Project Linus, a national charity that provides blankets for children who are seriously ill, traumatized or otherwise in need.
The Sewing Circle already worked with Project Linus as a drop-off point for donations. With the "fire quilts," as they've come to be known, Project Linus is handling distribution to organizations such as the American Red Cross while the Sewing Circle receives and completes quilts.
Jeanne Brunkow, the area coordinator for the Larimer County chapter of the Linus Project, said the fire quilts suit the project's mission of providing love and security to children in need. Some of the quilts donated have been child-sized.
"A lot of times a blanket is important because it's a physical object," Brunkow said. "We hear story after story that a kid was in the hospital and maybe scared to be there and a person will hand them a blanket and they'll really clutch onto it."
Brunkow said she was sure adults also could benefit from quilts, which she called "homemade hugs."
Quilter Beth Neely, a Fort Collins resident who gave a quilt top to the Sewing Circle, said she planned her quilt with comfort in mind, choosing soft reds, yellows, blues and white rather than bright colors.
She decided to give a quilt top rather than just squares because she wanted to contribute more.
"I don't have a lot of resources, but I have fabric and I have time to sew that fabric, so I felt like that was the best gift I could give to someone who was suffering," Neely said.
Thanks to quilters like Neely, donations continue to pile up at the Sewing Circle as volunteers work to sew together the unfinished quilts. In July, special work days will be held at the store where volunteers can help turn the remaining materials into quilts.
Mangan estimates that it will take the rest of the summer to put together the materials that the store already has received. She said she's tickled that people have recognized the need and are willing to make the effort to help those displaced by the High Park Fire.
"Quilters are like that," Mangan said. "They're very giving and they want to share, which is really wonderful."