MEIGS COUNTY — It is easy to find comfort in the smallest things: a cup of coffee, a chat with a good friend, a book, a warm blanket.
For some people in West Virginia, these sorts of comforts are rare. Following the devastating floods in June of last year, many people lost their homes, belongings, and tangible memories, such as photos. They lost family heirlooms that were physical ties to their families’ histories. While the photographs and heirlooms cannot be replaced, other necessities can be. New comforts can be found and enjoyed, especially in the chill and damp that is normally part of an Appalachian winter.
Two women in Meigs County have found a way to send some cozy comfort to some of the victims of the June flooding, along with people closer to home. Minnie Thornton and her daughter Darlene Mills have made quilts all of their lives, although Thornton no longer quilts. Her eyesight has grown worse as she has grown older, making it harder for her to see to do the work. Mills continues the tradition, though, and made several quilts to give as gifts over the holidays in addition to many more that ended up being taken to Charleston by her sister Donna Fink. Fink works at CAMC. One of her coworkers was in contact with a family who had lost their home in June. Fink and her other coworkers adopted the family for Christmas, and part of the gifts sent down was a quilt for each family member.
Each quilt is different, although it uses the same basic pattern, with differences in fabric type, length, and pattern. Quilts for children feature beloved animated characters and bright colors, while baby quilts use the typically pastel color schemes that have been popular for decades. Larger, adult-size quilts use nature scenes featuring wolves or deer, or feature Native Americans and landscapes. Thornton and Mills are humble about their work — quilting is relaxing and enjoyable, but they are pleased and proud that the quilts that Mills works so hard on are put to good use, by people who need them.
Quilts have not only been sent to flood victims, but Thornton and Mills have also sent quilts to a church in Gallipolis, to be distributed to the homeless. The week of January 22, at least fifteen quilts were sent out to be distributed to those who were in need of them, and Mills says as long as the need is there, she will donate what she makes. She had originally intended to sell them. However, when she learned of the need for donations, she said that the Lord put it on her heart to send her quilts, instead of selling them. She would still like to, but making sure others have some warmth this winter was more important.
“Everyone can make a difference,” Thornton says.
Jessica Marcum is a freelance writer for the Sentinel.