THE VILLAGES, Fla. - What are the sights and sounds you picture when you think of The Villages? Golf carts? People working on their hobbies?
Once a week at the Hibiscus Recreation Center, a group of a few dozen women combine their pastimes and their passions. Only, that’s not what Linda Griffo calls it.
"I think at this point, for me, for all of us in here, it's an obsession," Griffo said.
As of Tuesday, the Sunset Pointe Quilters and the Villages Quilting Guild have started putting their energy to good use. They’re working on about a dozen quilts to donate to the Tunnel to Towers Foundation. Since 9/11, that charity has provided mortgage-free homes to families of fallen service members and first responders.
"It's kind of exciting for us to have a good charity quilt to do," said Debbie Robinson, one of the guild members.
These quilts are no small gift. Each one takes hundreds of hours to make.
Griffo says the first one she did by hand took 601 hours, not including the time she spent picking a design and shopping for fabric. These days, she says she can get one done on a sewing machine in closer to 200 to 300 hours.
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"I like to spend time with my quilts," said Griffo. "I like the whole process of it."
The process is laborious, with step after step requiring intense attention to detail. The Sunset Pointe Quilters spent their morning on Tuesday measuring, cutting, arranging, sewing, and repeating those steps time and time again. Pricked fingers and callouses are simply part of the gig.
"We have lots of different tricks on getting the blood stains off," laughed Griffo.
Also incorporated into these quilts is an immense amount of love. Margo McGinnis says it can be difficult to hand over something you worked so hard on. That’s why, for these guild members, knowing their quilts are going to Gold Star families is so exciting.
"It makes me feel good," said McGinnis.
"T2T is one of my charities, so I don’t mind going a little extra for that," another guild member named Anne added.
The quilters hope to get their gifts shipped out to the Tunnel to Towers Foundation by the new year.