Sending Quilts to Texas?

The hurricane disaster in Texas may displace people from more than 100,000 homes for at least several weeks. They need housing, food, water, and some way to replace all the goods lost to water damage, or simply washed or blown away. Should you send replacement items? Should you send quilts?

It’s tempting, isn’t it? A quilt is a tangible item to show your concern, to offer both comfort and warmth. I’ve already seen a number of requests for quilts for Texans. I’ve also seen one of those requests in a Facebook group called a fraud, and deleted after the group moderator couldn’t affirm its legitimacy.

In the past I’ve made quilts to give post-disaster. But unless a disaster is local, I won’t do it again. Why not? Very simply, if a community is facing the scale of tragedy that Houston and other Texas cities are facing, figuring out how to deal with unsolicited stuff creates more trouble than the stuff is worth. As Abby Glassenberg says in her post from 2013,

The truth is, though, that direct donations of goods, especially in the wake of a disaster, can truly cause more harm than good. Boxes and bags of blankets and clothes and stuffed animals pile up on the floors of warehouses, waiting to be inspected, sorted and distributed. The flood of donations commonly creates a second crisis of sorts.

Read Abby’s whole post for more information and some good advice. also covered this topic in 2013. Did you ever see photos of all the donations of teddy bears and other comfort gifts after the Sandy Hook killings? Did you know that many donations sent to Haiti ended up in waste piles on the beach, some of which are still there?

The urge to give is strong. In Texas, however, they may need things like toiletries, school supplies, and clean water more than quilts. Whatever they need, it’s probably better to donate cash, unless you live in Texas or nearby and have connections that will directly serve those affected.

If you still want to give things, consider making those donations to organizations in your own locale. My quilt guild gives between 100 and 200 quilts a year, as well as other items like bibs, burp cloths, pillow cases, and placemats. Almost all those donations are distributed within our county. We know what organizations need, because we work with them on a continuing basis. When their needs change, they tell us.

And there are a number of national (and international) organizations that distribute quilts, as well. Two of them are Project Linus and Quilts of Valor, but there are many others. (I am not endorsing either of these, or any others, as I don’t know enough about them to do so. Please do your own research to decide where you’d like to contribute your time, money, and efforts.)

Quilters are very generous. Our impulse is to give, and to give something with love and concern stitched in. Please do. But give quilts locally and to well-respected, continuing organizations that are structured to distribute quilts. Otherwise, financial contributions are generally more helpful.

32 thoughts on “Sending Quilts to Texas?

  1. Pretty Curious

    Well, I am sending quilts to Texas, but our group has family that are first responders in TX, and those people, sometimes sleep in their cars. We are sending them quilts for themselves, plus some to give as they see fit. They will not be stock piled awaiting distribution. As such, these will be not a burden on agency’s that are there to help. A few recipients in the past, have cherished these as it was the first, and only thing they owned for some time.
    I do not make quilts for the sake of making quilts. Or make a quilt, decide it’s ugly, and donate it. Any quilt that I make is good enough to keep, and anyone who gets one from me is someone I consider special.
    That said, I agree with the “Stop dumping your crap on us” sentiment. when I see the junk that is being sent [stuffed animals, used clothing ect.], I am apalled. By all means, if you can send money, please send it. We have also sent gift cards, again, handed directly to the recpients by our first responders.

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Thanks very much for your comment. THAT is an excellent way to help, regardless of the incident. If you know people who need help, or can help people who can help, it’s good to do so. Thank you.

  2. Elizabeth E.

    Thank you for this post. While I long ago realized the same thing as you did — that charity works best when its local — there still is some amount of pressure and guilt associated with all these quilts that we get called to make. I think the causes are all worthy and good, but when I saw another long-term quilt cause pop up in my feed last month (quilts to children of fallen police officers) I wondered if we quilters haven’t jumped down a rabbit hole. Wouldn’t seeking out the suffering in our own community work best? I helped out the other night at a food bank, stocking shelves. It really wasn’t much, but it didn’t involve stuff. It only required me to give of my time, something I don’t do nearly enough.

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Agree, time spent locally has many benefits, to both the giver and the receiver. (Enough so it can be hard to know which is which…) And we all have our favorite causes. I would never donate intact quilts to an animal shelter, while others would never donate quilts to a human homeless shelter. All the calls for all the quilts ends up feeling like … everyone has their hand out, all the time. Thanks for your comments.

  3. sandradny

    Great post. I lived in Texas (but not Houston) for 20 years, so my heart is with everyone in that city. A friend of mine was severely effected by the Wimberly(TX) Flood in 2015. She highly recommended Mercy Chefs to me as an organization that provided real support in her time of need. I know they are in Houston now. I like the idea of sending money to organizations with low overhead and high integrity.

  4. shoreacres

    Speaking honestly, the last thing I would have wanted to receive after Allison or Ike would have been a quilt, and I never would offer one to any of my friends who currently are displaced. Quilts are beautiful, but caring for one in a flood zone would be a burden. If I’d been given one, I probably would have passed it on to someone outside of the devastation, just so nothing would happen to it. The idea of auctioning off a quilt and contributing the money is smart and practical.

    In such circumstances, a nice fleece blanket of the sort you can buy in Walgreen’s for $6.99 is ever so much better. They’re light, they’re warm when they need to be, but they’re not so hot that they can’t be used in the heat and humidity. Best of all, they can be washed. After Ike, the Tide corporation moved some of their mobile laundries down here, and there was nothing more satisfying than being able to take a load or two of clothes to their location and have them washed. A nice, fleece blanket can go in with towels and underwear, and no one need worry.

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Thanks for your thoughts, Linda. It’s good to hear from people who know the score. And yes, the notion of caring for quilts at this time seems … difficult, at best. A clean pillow, a fresh blanket, those sound very comforting.

  5. TextileRanger

    As someone from the affected area, though not affected myself this time around, I agree with you! The first time my in-laws went through a flood, their house was down to bare studs for 6 months, and they were living in one room, cooking on a hot plate. And then they went through it again, about once a decade.
    We all extremely appreciate the generosity of those who are helping in any way, but we are not sitting here going, “Hey! Why isn’t someone giving of themselves a little more? Where is a quilt from Iowa?” If someone can help with a few dollars, great — if not, we won’t hold it against you! We know there are so many calls for help in this world.

  6. KerryCan

    People love symbolic gestures and giving money for hurricane relief probably feels like giving money for a birthday–impersonal and too generic. But your points are excellent, rational, and so timely!

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Thanks, Kerry. I do understand that sense. It’s the same when people find out that giving a dollar to the food bank would buy 10 cans of food. Some still would rather spend a dollar on ONE can of food, and give the can. It makes them feel like they helped feed someone that particular item. (And in fact organizations like Heifer International use that sense by letting you “buy” particular types of animals to help families in need. Want to give a goat? We’d love to have you give a goat! Give us $X and we’ll make sure a goat goes to a family!! I don’t know if there is such a one-to-one relationship with their work, but they make it feel that way, and it helps people visualize their donation in particular ways.) I think I went off on a tangent…

  7. tierneycreates

    I read Abby G’s article a couple days ago and glad you posted it and I saw in a video in which donations to a disaster stricken area overseas had to be burned because they were just rotting on the beach. Glad you shared this as it is so important people understand that money helps a lot more right now!

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      It’s startling, isn’t it? We have the notion that the quilts, clothing, and household goods we send will be distributed to those in need, that the teddy bears we send to comfort will go to children in distress. When I saw a news report on the warehouse that was needed to store things after Sandy Hook, I knew I could never make that kind of donation again. I understand the impulse, but there are better ways to execute it.

  8. zippyquilts

    An excellent point, with which I agree. If one MUST do something quilty for Texans, it would be better to wait until things settle a bit and then contact Houston area quilt guilds to ask if members need donations to replace their stash.

  9. Stephanie Collins

    I have honestly never thought about it like that and can see that it would be a real problem! I love the suggestion of making a quilt, selling or auctioning it off and donating the money to a reputable charity!

  10. snarkyquilter

    I second your thoughts. My suggestion is to auction off a quilt or quilts locally or sell your own quilts to raise money to send to organizations that aid flood victims. I believe some quilters are doing that on Instagram.

  11. Jan

    I agree with you 100%
    . I also,think the media should not bombard the disaster zones
    with staff. All the crews that gather there, are more of a hindrance
    than a help.
    They take up much needed accommodation and use up supplies that are needed by the
    people directly affected by the disaster. And,as for “celebrities” flying in to these
    places the less said about them the better.


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