by Joe Bollig
GARDNER — Every once in a while, Thomas Jones pulls on the ol’ red suit and stands in for Santa Claus when Christmas comes around.
Recently, however, he ditched the St. Nick shtick and helped out some special “quilting elves” make a special gift delivery to the Meadowbrook Rehabilitation Hospital in Gardner.
On Aug. 8, Jones and members of the quilting clubs at Divine Mercy Parish in Gardner and St. Paul Parish in Olathe delivered 75 lap quilts to patients and residents at Meadowbrook.
The inspiration to donate the quilts came when Jones stayed at Meadowbrook for a period of rehabilitation in March 2015. Later, he was sent home for further convalescence.
“My husband was very thankful for all the help by the occupational therapists,” said Margie Jones. “They had come to our house to make sure he could function at home. They saw a picture of him dressed up as Santa and asked if he could come to play Santa at the rehabilitation place in December.”
Margie Jones talked with a relative about how nice it would be if something could be done for the residents and patients at Meadowbrook, and the idea of lap quilts came up. They also decided not to wait until December.
Using her contacts, Margie Jones — who is a quilter herself — got in touch with the quilting groups at the two parishes and proposed the idea. The quilters agreed to take on the project.
Two of the quilters who participated were the grandmother/granddaughter team of Mary Crouch from St. Paul Parish and Maddie Woodard from Queen of the Holy Rosary Parish in Wea.
It was Crouch who recruited her granddaughter into the quilting circle, but they’re both enjoying the shared activity.
“This is fabulous,” said Crouch.
“I like it,” said Woodard.
And both the residents and the patients loved their quilts, which they were invited to select themselves. Patient William Kidwell chose a blue quilt to match his blue Kansas City Royals shirt.
“So much intricate work went into this quilt,” said Kidwell. “Me and my wife one time made a quilt. I know it takes a long time to make a quilt.”
Patient Lloyd Wollard received a red, black and white quilt to go with his red, black and white Kansas City Chiefs ballcap. Was he trying to make a fashion statement?
“No,” said Wollard. “I just like red.”