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Posted: Saturday, March 16, 2019 10:07 am | Updated: 11:31 am, Mon Mar 18, 2019.

Sharon Mullen, a long-time quilter and retired social worker from Edgewood, New Mexico, drove 625 miles to attend the first day of Creations’ 41st Anniversary Celebration and Quilt Show on Friday morning — a show where all entries will be donated to Hill Country CASA and distributed to children in foster care.

Last year, Mullen was spending time in the Hill Country on spring break and stumbled upon the 40th anniversary quilt show with her granddaughter — and fell in love with the event.

Mullen, who’s been quilting since 2000, decided that this year, she wanted to enter it.

She mailed away for entry forms last fall and was sent two fabrics to work with as well as squares with inspirational quotations written on them, in keeping with this year’s theme: “The Power of Words.”

But her trip to Kerrville looked a bit dicy for a while. First, she was called for jury duty in March and instructed to keep her March schedule open. Then, she said, all the March cases were miraculously settled out of court, freeing up her schedule to make the nine-hour trip to Kerrville.

It was snowing when Mullen and her husband, John, left their home a few days ago, and when they stopped in Carlsbad, New Mexico, for the night, they were greeted by tornadoes all around them. Despite high wind warnings the next day, they pressed on to Texas.

Between Lamesa and Big Spring, they were forced to take detours after a dust storm with 39-mile-per-hour winds derailed their route.

“But we are here,” said Mullen, who’s camping this weekend at Lady Bird Johnson Municipal Park. “And it’s been wonderful.”

Mullen said she was a social worker in New Mexico for 26 years and worked closely with both CASA and children in foster care.

“Those children come in with nothing, probably just the clothes on their back, and generally move around a lot,” she said, tearing up a bit. “To get their own quilt, to get to take something with them that’s theirs — that’s precious.”

Mullen said she had never seen quilts donated to foster care children in her decades as a social worker, and she thought it was a beautiful idea.

“That’s why this is such a touching thing for me,” she said.

Hill Country CASA is a nonprofit that provides trained, court-appointed volunteers to serve neglected or abused children in Bandera, Gillespie, Kendall and Kerr counties. Last year, the agency helped 260 children.

The co-owners of Kerrville’s Creations store, sisters Kathy Thompson and Julie Milam, said they had come up with the idea to do a celebratory quilt show last year to celebrate the 40th anniversary of their opening.

Their store has been featured twice among the country’s best quilt stores in Better Homes and Garden’s quilting periodicals, and it will be featured a third time in May, said Shirley Klefer of Medina, who entered the contest last year.

The room featured more than 100 quilts on display, each decorated with inspirational quotes and colorful patterns.

“You did it again,” Klefer said, embracing Thompson and Milam. “I’m so proud of you. This is just wonderful. I love the words theme that you chose — it has so much strength and power and love.”

Last year, Thompson and Milam chose Rainbow Room, located within the Kerr County Child Welfare Board building, as the recipient of the quilts. The Rainbow Room then distributed the quilts to children in need — many of them through Hill Country CASA.

While some of the quilts were given to children just entering foster care, others were given to young people aging out of the foster care system so they could have something to call their own, Thompson said.

Asked why they chose Hill Country CASA as the beneficiary this year, Milam said: “We wanted to help as many as we can."

She noted that Stephanie Cash, executive director of Hill Country CASA, and Amy Harding, volunteer coordinator, were instrumental in developing the joint plan. 

“We just got the ball rolling,” said Thompson, noting that she hopes quilters in other counties and other states are inspired to donate quilts to foster children. 
The oldest quilter who entered this weekend’s show is 95 years old, and the youngest — who traveled with her mother from San Angelo — is 10. 
 
“We had 134 entries,” Thompson said. “The farthest away one is from Canada, but there are also people who entered from Pennsylvania, Minnesota, New Mexico.”
 
Thompson and Milam said they felt humbled by the immense community response both locally and around the country.
 
“We know quilters love to make quilts, and they’re extremely generous with their time and talent,” Thompson said. “We are so taken aback by their generosity — some of them just bring us to tears. Quilting involves so much expense, time and effort, and they’re giving it away to children they’ll never meet.”

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