This week, Wrap the World with Quilts celebrated its first anniversary. Located in Thanksgiving Point, this foundation has now sent over 25,700 quilts to Ukrainian refugees.
The idea originally started with Lehi couple Gina and Hal Halliday, and their business partner, Beth Hawkins. A year ago, the group had the idea to collect a few hundred quilts to send to friends who fled Ukraine due to the outbreak of war.
Gina and Beth both previously had businesses in the quilting industry, and so on March 17 of 2022, they reached out to friends on their social media, asking them to collect and send quilts.
“On March 18, our first quilt donations were dropped off on my porch. Since then, we have received quilts every single day for one year,” said Gina.
Their simple idea grew, with thousands of quilt donations flooding in.
“We had no idea quiltmakers from all over the country would respond in such an amazing way. We know quiltmakers are givers,” said Beth. “But what we didn’t expect is the number of quilts that have been donated. We are blown away.”
With many donors, the organization wanted to ensure that every donor had the opportunity to see how their service has helped others. Wrap the World with Quilts utilizes QR code technology to help donors see the impact of their quilt donations.
“The quiltmaker can register their quilt before sending it to us, and it is assigned a unique QR code. When the quilt is delivered, the refugee can scan the QR code and send a message back to the quiltmaker–making a human connection,” said Hal.
Through this unique system, donors and receivers have been able to connect internationally.
“We have received many very heartfelt messages and photos back from those who have received quilts,” said Beth. “Our quilts have been delivered to orphanages and displaced Ukrainians living in Poland, Moldova, Romania and Ukraine. We have even delivered quilts to Ukrainian soldiers on the front line.”
Their original “quilt drive” has received 25,700 quilts in the past year, comprised of donations from all 50 US states and six countries. Altogether, these quilts weigh a hefty 32 tons and equal over $16 million worth of time and materials.
In addition to local quiltmakers, big businesses and startups have helped encourage the project.
“It has been inspiring to see Silicon Slopes businesses like Qualtrics, Atomic Financial, Method Studio, and others hold team builders and service events to make hundreds of tied fleece blankets for our charity. It is incredible to see a CEO with a pair of scissors on the floor, cutting fabric to make a blanket for a Ukrainian refugee,” said Gina.
In September 2022, Gina, Hal and Beth lead a humanitarian service trip to Poland with 35 volunteers. On this trip, they established sewing centers in Krakow, Poland to teach refugees sewing. By doing this, they hope to help the Polish people earn money by making and selling small items. They secured donations for 30 sewing machines and 2,000 pounds of fabric and supplies.
Since its creation, over 5,000 quilts have been hand-delivered, and the remaining quilts have been shipped and distributed by their charity partner, Lifting Hands International.
“We needed 2,000 to 3,000 quilts and blankets for each cargo container we ship to Ukraine, and Wrap the World with Quilts has been able to supply us with those,” said Traci Parson, the assistant director of the Utah Office of Lifting Hands.
“We are thrilled to have found a charity partner with Lifting Hands International. We have expanded our mission and have also sent quilts to the earthquake victims from Turkey and Syria and others suffering worldwide with Lifting Hand’s efficient shipping and distribution system,” said Gina.
With the help of Lifting Hands International, the once-small quilt drive hopes to expand the project worldwide. To make a donation or to learn more, visit www.wraptheworldwithquilts.com .