The animals at the Rhode Island Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RISPCA) will be a little more comfortable in their kennels thanks to Blaine’s Sewing Machine Center on Oaklawn Avenue.
On March 11-12, the store, as a certified Bernina dealer, held a Best Friend sewing event with the goal of making 100 kennel quilts for the RISPCA. These events have come out of a partnership between Bernina, its dealers, The Petfinder Foundation and The Quilt Pattern magazine.
The partnership began in December 2015, and there have since been eight Bernina Best Friend events across the country. Bernina will also be making a $30,000 donation to the Petfinder Foundation, which works to improve shelters and rescues throughout North America with grants.
In turn, the events are benefiting The Quilt Pattern Magazine’s initiative to provide shelters with kennel quilts, which began after Hurricane Sandy in 2012.
Nan Baker, marketing director for The Quilt Pattern, used to work as a disaster responder. In that position, she often rescued animals but found that they were uncomfortable on the concrete or steel of the kennel. As a quilter and animal lover, Baker thought about creating smaller quilts that would fit perfectly in a kennel from the scraps she had left over.
After Hurricane Sandy she reached out to the Petfinder Foundation to find what shelters were hit the hardest and needed help. Baker then shared the list with the magazine’s community asking they send kennel quilts to different shelters. Since then, her “army of quilters” has sent more than 4,300 to shelters and rescues across the country.
Now, through the secondary partnership with Bernina, those numbers are increasing every weekend.
“We saw so much success without being a real organized effort, so we decided to go along with it whenever there was any disaster,” Baker said. “The quilts help to calm an animal down, especially during times of crisis and confusion.”
Karen Roy, owner of Blaine’s Sewing Machine Center, said her own Best Friend sewing event was a great success, with more than 40 people coming together over the two days to create 101 kennel quilts.
“As an animal lover I feel this opportunity is enriching on a personal level, but also on a community level. It brings people together behind a cause, to work together towards a goal,” Roy said. “Everyone involved is really committed and wants to continue with this.”
Amy Gutierrez, director of marketing for Bernina of America, said shelter animals are a cause “near and dear” to her heart, and she is happy to work for a company so willing to get behind making a difference the lives of shelter animals.
“It’s rewarding to know you’re making a difference. We can bring awareness and help improve the quality of life for these animals through something we love to do: sew,” Gutierrez said.
Both Gutierrez and Baker agreed that although the partnership between companies focused on sewing and shelters may seem odd, there is a lot of “demographic overlap” between the two industries.
Emily Fromm, chief development officer for The Petfinder Foundation, said these events go far beyond just providing some extra warmth for animals but also have a psychological effect on both potential adopters and shelter staff.
“These quilts create a more cheerful and homey atmosphere. It has the visual effect of making these animals look more like pets, like they could fit in a home, rather than these lonely animals you should take pity on,” Fromm said.
For volunteers and staff, the donations are a reminder that people care about this cause; that even people who don’t have the money to make large donations still want to take the time and energy to make a difference in the lives of shelter animals.
For more information on Blaine’s Sewing Machine Center, visit blainesewing.net or its location at 1280 Oaklawn Ave.
For more information on The Petfinder Foundation, visit petfinderfoundation.com. For more information on The Quilt Pattern Magazine, visit quiltpatternmagazine.com. For more information on Bernina Sewing Machines visit bernina.com.