Short of an all time record

Monday, August 8, 2022
(Sentinel Photos by Beverly Van Buskirk) This quilt constructed by Sterling Meyer includes T-shirt blocks and other pork related fabrics to honor the Plymouth County Pork Producers and sold for a top bid of $2,300 at the Life Skills Foundation Quilt Auction on July 30 during the Plymouth County Fair.

PLYMOUTH CO. — The hot weather didn’t stop the bidders at the 25th annual Life Skills Foundation Quilt Auction Saturday, July 30, in Century Hall at the Plymouth County Fair.

A total of 90 quilted items, ranging from table runners and wall hangings, from baby quilts, to queen size, to all sizes inbetween.

When the final “sold” was cried, The 2022 auction total came to $31,110.

“That is short $100 from an all-time record for the auction,” said Shelly Thomson, Life Skills Training Center marketing and development coordinator.

She called this year’s selection of quilts “outstanding.”

“I know I say this every year, but wow, this year they were just stellar,” she said.

This year, a pork-themed quilt garnered the top bid of $2,300 and was purchased by Hodgen Farms.

“It had lots of Pork Producer type T-shirts and Pork Producer sayings on there,” Thomson said. “The exciting thing about that is, Sterling Meyer made that quilt. Now this isn’t the first quilt that Sterling has made but it is the first quilt that she had donated to us. And it is just heartwarming to see some of the younger generation picking up that tradition of the quilt-making.”

The next highest bid of $1,100 was for a gray and burgundy stars 86x110-inch quilt donated by St. John’s Lutheran Church in memory of Lavonne Englebrecht, who was a long-time quilter with the church quilt group.

“We had a couple of different shining stars on the auction, too,” Thomson noted.

“Two of the quilts that were judged in the open class for the fair, the reserve grand champion winner and a blue ribbon quilt, were both donated to Life Skills. They were kind of a last minute entry,” Thomson said.

“We also did two of the exciting Quilts of Valor,” she said.

The two quilts exceed the Quilt of Valor organization’s guidelines as to size, quality of fabrics and quilting methods. If the bidder desires, the quilt may be awarded as a Quilt of Valor to a veteran and a ceremony would be arranged.

“They were just some awesome quilts there. And they were different quilts this year. We had only one ISU quilt and we only had really one John Deere quilt. That’s the not the normal rule to the game. We have a lot of ISU and Hawkeyes and John Deere and Case IH so overall, the quilts were a different variety of things. It was very on-trend with the little gnomes and things like that. It was just an exciting year this year,” she continued.

Vintage and vintage-look quilts as well as colorful designs and seasonal items also crossed the stage.

Thomson noted there were some new bidders in the audience this year.

“There were some of our tried-and-trues and there were some new bidders. That’s always great to see new faces to the quilt auction,” she said.

Longtime Quilters Help Make Event a Success

Thomson also noted three longtime quilters, Becky Wiersma, Ginny Freyermuth and Rosemary Cronin, continue to donate multiple quilts to the auction.

“It’s crazy the number of quilts they do. Phyllis Woll does a lot of the machine quilting, too. They get busy with quilts right away, and every one of them is prettier than the other.

“And the baby quilts, don’t they just melt your heart? They are so soft, and the soft minkee fabric is the best. You have to touch that kind of fabric to get the true benefit of what those quilts are like,” she added.

One strong supporter is Bridget Hoefling, owner of Tri-State Nursing.

“Bridget brought her husband along, they have a cattle company, so some were bought by Hoefling Cattle Co., and some by Tri-State Nursing.They are a big, big supporter of Life Skills, not only in the quilt auction area but also support it by being board members and doing different things throughout the year,” Thomson said. “I give a strong shout-out to them. They are awesome.”

Toward the end of the auction, Thomson herself had top bid on a quilt. Hoefling immediately stood up to say she would pay the bid, thanking Thomson for all her hard work.

Thomson later said, “I really feel like it’s an honor to be able to do the job that I do here, but then when somebody recognizes that fact, and recognizes it quite publicly, the hours it takes to make this fair successful for Life Skills, that was just heartwarming for me and it meant a lot.”

Possible Because of Volunteers

Thomson said it takes quite a few volunteers to set up the auction site on Saturday.

“When we start at 12 p.m., and get into Century Hall, we walk in with about 12-15 volunteers to get everything all set up, get chairs arranged, wash tables off, make sure the quilts are in numerical order. It takes a big crew to make sure that the quilts get in the right hands, the money gets all paid out.

“We always really rely heavily on that fair royalty, for them to do the holding them up. Your arms get quite tired, as some of those quilts are quite heavy,” she said.

Helping to Keep Life Skills Viable

The money raised at the quilt auction goes right back to Life Skills to enable it to be as successful as it can be.

In the laundry facility, clients fold 4,000 pounds of laundry every day. Clients require different heights of tables and different equipment to accommodate them.

“We spend money on that. We spend money transporting them from location to location, to the 25 janitorial job sites, from the production floor over to the day habilitation site. There are a lot of moving parts here,” Thomson said. “We work with handicapped people, so there are a lot of accommodations that have to happen.”

Some of the funds, along with funds from a Community Foundation of Greater Plymouth County grant, will be used to remodel the client break room at the Life Skills facility at 1510 Industrial Road S.W.

The renovation is a floor to ceiling overhaul.

“Right now, there is no visibility into that room. Some of the funding will be used to put a large window in the breakroom so training staff can take a peek in there without having to walk around the walls,” she said.

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