Let’s Help: I’m Auctioning Quilts for Puerto Rico

posted in: Luv, Quilting, Work 17
A stack of quilts does no one any good, really — unless it can do a LOT of good! Photo: Marianne Fons.
Sneak peek! These quilts aren’t doing much good just sitting up at the house in Washington Island, now are they? Let’s put them to good use, my friends. Photo: Marianne Fons.


It’s hard to know how to help.

Texas. Florida. Mexico. The Virgin Islands. Puerto Rico. There have been so many devastating weather events lately, I spend a good deal of time feeling depressed and frightened and useless when these reports come in. And I feel guilty, too, because what can I do? Does $25 to the Red Cross really help? Should I go to Texas, to Mexico and try to sandbag or something? But how does that even work and won’t I just be in the way? What if I make everything worse and what if I put myself in danger on top of everything else? You probably recognize at least some of this unhappy thinking which, sadly, is 100% ineffective in all directions.

This morning, after clicking through the (more bad) news, my brow furrowed and I sank onto the couch with a groan. Our countrymen and countrywomen in Puerto Rico find themselves facing a humanitarian crisis that could threaten the stability of the region for a long, long time. It’s chaos down there and can you just imagine being a little kid down there right now? How scary it must be? All of a sudden, thinking about that, I just got fed up. I decided that nope, not today, no more stewing, no more gnashing of teeth and groaning and doing nothing. Today, I decided, today I would act, I would do an actionable thing to help someone out there on that island. That’s a U.S. territory, dammit, and more needs to be done.

I have come to understand that what is very helpful in a crisis situation like the one in Puerto Rico, the best thing for me to do is to send money — but I simply do not have extra right now. So I thought, “How could I raise some money?” Walking to and fro on my carpet, sipping my tea (I’m back on tea, coffee’s for the birds, at least in the morning), I remembered that I’ve been needing to make good on something I say to hundreds of people all over the country: Quilters who make lots of quilts should give lots of quilts away. “Don’t keep your quilts in a stack in a closet,” I say, sometimes even shaking my fist. “Give your quilts to people who want or need them! Go make more quilts! You will, anyway! Give it away, people!”

“Mary, Mary, wait a second,” you say. “Calm down.” And then, scratching your attractive head, you ask me why I’m on about quilts when I said I wanted to send money to Puerto Rico.

Wait for it!

Despite my fervent “Give away your quilts” message, which I do stand by — fervently! — I find myself with a quilt surplus right now. Some of these quilts are from my book, Make + Love Quilts, available at fine quilt shops everywhere; some are from the days of Quilty magazine; one or two were “just-for-funs”; one is a sample I made for the fabric line. I’ve given away other quilts over the years but somehow I haven’t yet given these quilts away and you know what? It’s time to turn them into money for people in need.

I’m going to auction off ten (10) quilts tomorrow, October 1st, 2017, and all the money will go to Americares to benefit victims of Hurricane Maria. This is going to be fun and awesome. Ten people will get their very own Mary Fons quilt and hundreds of people will get at least a little bit of help down in the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico! And I’ll have more room in my house! This is great!

All of this will go down tomorrow. No, I don’t know exactly what time. I have homework to do and I have to set up this online silent auction thing. All will be revealed, don’t get antsy. Actually, no: Do get antsy! Be excited to buy a quilt from me and help so many people! But because I know there are burning questions, here are a few details for now:

  • Where’s the money going?
    I spent a lot of time looking at which organization I want to send money to and Americares wins. They recently air-lifted $1.8 million in food and medical supplies to the Virgin Islands, and that was just another day at the office, if you will. Their website says: “Hurricane Maria: Emergency Relief Fund; For every $10 you donate today, we can provide $200 in aid — that’s the power of giving to Americares.” Think of the math, you guys: If I sell ten quilts at a minimum bid of $100 and no one bids a penny more, that’s $1000! By Americares’ math, we’re raising $20k, y’all! We can do it!
  • Will you be offended if I ask you how we know you’ll donate the money and not just spend it on candy corn pumpkins for Pendennis?
    Nope, I won’t be offended. I actually have thought of this already and am going to make this part really fun: I’m going to make a video of me writing the check and sending the donation to Americares! Pendennis will come with me and Sophie will probably film it. (Sophie, will you please film the video?)
  • I don’t live in the U.S. and am wondering if this matters?
    I guess I’d better limit participation to folks in the continental United States. But actually, if you want to pay the shipping of a quilt to your homeland, go for it! But you gotta pay shipping because that will eat into the donation.
  • What size are these quilts? And what else can you tell me about them? 
    The quilts are all lap- or queen-size. All the measurements will be listed on the silent auction thingy I’m going to try and make tonight. All quilts will have a label on the back that gives the date and says that I made it, you bought it, and together, we did something to help our brothers and sisters in the human race.
  • Is my payment tax deductible?
    I’m not a 501(c)3, so I think…no. I’m not sure, but I think what’s happening here is that you’re simply buying something and instead of me taking your money and spending it on candy corn pumpkins for Pendennis, I’m giving it away!
  • But what about this and that and how does this work and Mary Fons!!!
    I have never done this before and I don’t know what I’m doing. Please do not get mad at me if I screw something up. We are doing this together. This is not about us, it’s about helping people who have lost everything, everything. That said, I’m going to try and make this easy and fun. Gulp.

HOT TIP: If you don’t subscribe to this blog, I highly, highly recommend doing that now. Because when you subscribe, you get an email in your email box whenever I post a post. Like, instantly, you get an email when there’s a new PaperGirl and that means you’ll instantly know when this whole thing goes live tomorrow. Your email is safe with me; even if I wanted to “sell” your name, I wouldn’t have the first idea about how to do that. Sell what? To whom?

See you on PaperGirl tomorrow!

17 Responses

  1. Pam
    | Reply

    You rock! This is an awesome project!

  2. Diane Hagopian
    | Reply

    Always enjoyed the episodes with you and your mother and now thoroughly enjoy your writing – you certainly are a happy girl – looking forward to bidding on the quilts – such a generous kind thing you are doing –

  3. Patricia Tibbo
    | Reply

    This is exciting. Bless you for doing this. I’m looking forward to bidding too.

  4. Tambra
    | Reply

    I feel like you do. Thanks for providing a fun way to help me help them-and I may get a quilt too!

  5. Laurabeth Yager
    | Reply

    Go Mary! Best of luck!

  6. Judy Forkner
    | Reply


  7. Cindy
    | Reply

    Great idea!!

  8. Cathy
    | Reply

    What a great idea!

  9. Denise E. E.
    | Reply

    You are right about all the guilt, etc. Great idea to auction your quilts for the relief effort. Win win.

    I know you’re figuring out the logistics as you go, but just a thought to raise more money: what if others donated a quilt to your auction, or a separate auction? Easy for me to say; I’m not a quilter. However, I love quilts and have watched Love of Quilting for years.

  10. Kelly Ashton
    | Reply


  11. AJ
    | Reply

    My family was also motivated to do something in response to the crisis. The Hubs and I made a donation just this morning designated for aid in Puerto Rico (prior to reading your post – great minds and all that :-). I plan to bid on your beautiful quilts; however, I would encourage those who bid and do not win a quilt in the auction to make a donation via the relief organization of their choice. Can’t afford to donate? Find another way to help like our much beloved, resourceful Mary!

  12. Kathryn Darnell
    | Reply

    Cover these people with love!

  13. renib
    | Reply

    great idea!! We can make the checks directly to Americares so you don’t have problems later with IRS.

  14. Cindy Beal
    | Reply

    Mary you are just AWESOME!!!!! Who wouldn’t love to have an original MARY FONS quilt????!!!!!!

    • Mary
      | Reply

      Well, that’s what I’m hopin’, Cindy! I mean, they’re no better than anyone else’s, and that is a true fact. But they might be fun to have because quilts are great, period!

  15. Barbara
    | Reply

    This is a great idea, Mary. These people really need all the help they can get. xo

  16. Emilio
    | Reply

    I’m definitively bidding! Thanks for getting this going and your donation of quilts!!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *