April 28, 2011

Quilts for Riley

Logansport woman donates creations to Riley Hospital

It all started after Logansport resident Evelyn Sizemore began her chemotherapy treatment for cancer.

“I had cancer in 2008,” she said. “Three of my grandchildren were going to graduate that year. They asked me, ‘Grandma, will you make a quilt for these kids?’”

Since she had been undergoing chemotherapy, Sizemore said she didn’t have much energy. She spent most of her days lying around doing nothing.

“I’ve always been a person to keep busy,” she said.

She decided to make the quilts, but told her grandchildren she would need their help.

The last three years, Sizemore has been making children’s quilts to donate to Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health in Indianapolis.

Each year she creates 10 quilts.

“This will bring a smile to a child,” said Sizemore’s daughter Pam Roller, as she picked up one of the finished quilts.

This year was no different and Thomas recently finished all 10 quilts.

Themes for the quilts included teddy bears, Winnie the Pooh, Sponge Bob, animals, Care Bears, Thomas the Train, ladybugs, Mickey Mouse, and a quilt made from leftover fabric.

“They can drag it around for years, until it falls apart,” Sizemore said.

Heather Dawes, Riley at IU Health Cheer Guild director, said donations to the hospital come in on a regular basis.

“Hundreds of donations come in from brand new toys, as well as handmade items,” she said. “From that, we hand out 14,000 items every month.”

Most common items donated include LEGO products, Play-doh, Barbies, model cars and single layer no-sew fleece blankets.

Dawes said each child is able to keep the items, which are important to the hospital.

“It’s critical for the mission of the cheer guild to get donated items,” she said. “We wouldn’t be able to keep up with the 14,000 items.”

Dawes explained the budget to purchase items is $115,000, which is used to purchase the items high in demand.

The donated items bring some cheer to the child patients, too, Dawes said. “It helps make the hospital stay a little easier,” she said.

While undergoing chemotherapy, making quilts was almost therapeutic for Sizemore. She has enjoyed making quilts over the years and made two each for her eight children. She’s also made quilts for her grandchildren, who have graduated high school or married.

Roller estimated her mother has made more than 100 quilts. The larger quilts made take around 80 hours of time to complete.

To help save time with making the smaller quilts for Riley Hospital, Sizemore uses a tie method on each square. She must still perfectly cut and stitch squares together and stitch binding around the quilt for a finished product.

Her love for quilting was inspired by her mother many years ago. When Sizemore was younger, however, she didn’t have time to make the entire quilt from start to finish.

She began creating just the top portion of the quilts when she was younger and had someone else complete it.

“I just kind of picked up on it,” Sizemore said. “My mom had patterns and I used the simple ones she had and I just tried to follow along with what she was doing.”

Eventually, she wanted to learn the entire process.

“I learned to quilt with my sister,” she said. “We went to Delphi for a quilting class. That was about 12 to 15 years ago.”

The decision to continue making the quilts only made sense to Sizemore.

Several of her family members have needed Riley over the years.

One of her daughters had to give birth to twins at Riley, while a great-grandchild was born with one-third of a diaphragm and has spent almost the first two years of life in and out of Riley. Another grandchild was treated for an inoperable brain tumor.

“I just have a lot of free time since I am retired,” Sizemore said. “I feel like it’s something I can give back. We have had a lot of miracles from Riley.”

She usually spends her time during the winter months sewing in the basement. Roller said it keeps her mom busy.

Roller believes it takes a special person with a lot of patience to start quilting and continue at it for so many years.

“I’ve been so inspired by watching my mom, who was inspired by her own mother,” Roller said. “This is being passed on one generation to the next.”

Just as Sizemore said she didn’t have time to do it like her mother, Roller doesn’t quite have the time to do the same either.

So, instead, Roller decided to make 10 no-sew fleece blankets to send along with the quilts made by Sizemore. She took two pieces of fleece fabric with characters children would like and knotted the two together. Each blanket consists of 160 to 200 knots.

“I’m only trying to carry on the tradition and that is to make a difference,” said Roller.  “It’s about the power of one. It only takes one person to do what they do best and help someone else.”

• Denise Massie is a staff writer at the Pharos-Tribune. She can be reached at 574-732-5151 or

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