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Winter Texan of the Week: Sandra Johnson

Canadian Winter Texan Says Helping Others a Tradition for Quilters

by Rocio Villalobos

To Sandra Johnson, part of being a quilter is giving back. So she was thrilled when she found out about Texas Grandmas at her Alamo resort, soon after she and her husband began traveling down from Ontario in 2012. The group at Casa del Valle meets weekly to craft quilts for local organizations in need.

“I wasn’t sure what they were until I started asking, and I thought, ‘Oh yeah. I’ll do that,’” she said. “Learning from my grandmother, that was something you always did, along with making your own. So it’s been fun for me.”

They have already given out 130 quilts this season, and Johnson estimates they’ll have another 50 complete before she and the others return home. Even then, the work doesn’t stop.

“We have a few people that take the in-progress quilts home and bring them back finished the next year,” Johnson said. “We enjoy the time we spend together, and part of the reason I think people come is just to have somewhere to go and to be productive at the same time.”
Working as a team, they decide where to get involved and how to best use the funds they receive from others wanting to support with materials and equipment.

“It’s a collaborative effort, for sure,” Johnson said. “And we’re tight enough that we can tease each other and laugh and make fun of our mistakes because we do make a few or we forget things. It’s not always about what we’re doing; it’s also the camaraderie of just getting together.”

One organization they provide with quilts is Texas Oncology. They also donate to churches to distribute into communities, and they most recently partnered with the Texas Organ Sharing Alliance (TOSA).

“They sought us out and asked if we would make quilts for their patients doing their final journey, and then they present the quilts to their families,” she explained. “I mean, there was no discussion about it. We all just kind of looked at each other and said, ‘Yes, we want to be a part of this.’ It was just too awesome not to be. We are really, really proud to be part of their organization.”

Johnson adds it’s been a learning year for the group, with many of the members not yet having returned this season due to COVID-19 and others still hesitant to gather.
“It’s been different, but we’re forging forward with what we can do,” she said. “We’re just so grateful to help meet a need. We can barely keep up with demand, but we all know that we’re working together toward a good cause. It just makes you feel good at the end of the day for having taken your small part.”

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