Hearts are being warmed because of a Pleasant Grove woman’s idea to gather people who want to serve and stitch together for others in need. Krysti Wright began Stitching Hearts Worldwide two years ago and has, with the help of hundreds of volunteers, provided quilts, sleeping mats and other needed items to refugees and other people who are suffering.
Wright has been quilting for 35 years and was a professional quilter for 10 years. Then, two years ago, Wright decided that she wanted to make quilts for other people. That is when Stitching Hearts Worldwide, which is run through volunteers, was created.
“We wanted to be able to help people all around the world. We want to help everybody who needs their hearts stitched and the people who serve are getting their hearts stitched and blessed, too,” Wright said.
To begin, Wright was given many yards of fabric from a friend. Then, she was introduced to Lifting Hands International, a humanitarian nonprofit that provides aid to refugees at home and abroad. Through Lifting Hands International, Wright was able to find a way to get her handmade items to people who need them.
“They send quilts overseas to refugees in places like Lebanon, Somalia, Bangladesh. They are refugees who are trying to survive out on the desert with nothing, trying to keep the snakes and scorpions off them,” Wright said. “I felt really strongly that that would be a good cause.”
She also works with other organizations to get her items to those in need, including United Way, Launfal Foundation and Gathering Humanity.
Her idea to help others with quilts has grown since its beginning. She now provides materials for groups or individuals who want to serve to help stitch together the handmade goods.
“We provide fabric and they make them,” Wright said. They also provide the needed equipment, including quilting frames, looms, sewing machines and sergers.
“Everybody wants to serve and they don’t know how,” she said. “I’m kind of the link. We’re providing these opportunities of service and we have connections for giving them for people in need.”
In addition to quilts, volunteers also make plarn mats. These are plastic yarn mats that are weaved together on looms and can be used by people for sleeping or just having a clean place to sit. They also make backpacks for school or hygiene kits.
“The bag itself is very helpful to help them carry their very few belongings with them,” Wright said. Dolls and receiving blankets for babies are made as well.
During this past school year, Brigham Young University’s Y-Serve Refugee group asked to be involved. About 160 students met together every week to help tie quilts and make other items. “They loved serving,” Wright said.
In the fall, they will start up again.
During Christmastime, the LDS Church’s Institute of Religion at Utah Valley University came on board as well. In fact, over $7,000 of batting was used for quilts that BYU and UVU students helped to make during the 2017-18 school year.
Recently, Wright began meeting with a group at a senior living community in Pleasant Grove. “We started with them and there is a 90-year-old lady who came the first time. She was just in tears. She had been crying all day the day before because she was so lonely,” Wright said. “She comes every week now. They just love to have something to do on a weekly basis, to serve.”
“From Syracuse to Lehi and Pleasant Grove, we have different groups that help,” Wright said. During the summer, teenagers from Utah County have been meeting every week in Pleasant Grove to work on the handcrafted projects.
Sadie Lindahl, 15, of Pleasant Grove, is one of the youth who helps with the projects. She said she wanted to find a way to give a weekly sacrifice of her time so she and others went to help with the Stitching Hearts project.
“It was a fun way to look outside of myself and focus on helping other people before myself,” she said.
“Helping others encourages those around you to do the same,” said Aliya Weaver, 15, of Pleasant Grove. “Doing something for someone when they may be without gives me hope that if I ever needed a helping, loving hand, somebody would lend theirs.”
Stitching Hearts will be meeting the first two Thursdays in August in Pleasant Grove and all youth are invited to come. They meet at a church building located at 1176 N. 730 East from 10 a.m. to noon.
“More and more come each week. Everyone has a smile on their face,” Wright said. “The youth say that they love to do this. One of them has family members in Guatemala and was so excited that the sleeping mat she was working on would be sent there.”
“When they are actually doing a service where they are sitting around a quilt talking together, standing around a loom, cutting up bags, their phones are put away,” Wright said. “We don’t ask them to put their phones away. It’s just a natural thing. They are being blessed just as much or more than the people receiving the items. Our purpose is to help bless those people who receive the needed items and to create future servers.”
The handmade items are not only sent to refugees in other areas of the world. When Wright hears about a need, she tries to help. Recently, some items were sent to fire victims in California. They have also provided quilts for homeless people in Utah.
“There’s a family in Pleasant Grove whose home burned down and we sent five quilts for them to have that night,” Wright said. Over 50 sleeping mats with pillows, bags and dolls were sent to Guatemala for people who were suffering due to the volcanic eruption a few weeks ago.
It can be expensive to keep up with all of the quilts and other items that Stitching Hearts donates. Batting for quilts, thread, cording and fabric are some of the items that the organization purchases regularly. Different groups and businesses donate both financially and with supplies. They also rent their looms out to groups, which brings in some funds. “We need the donations so we can keep this going,” Wright said.