Sewing project aids animals displaced by disasters

Church group helps produce quilts for small animals in California fires

Dixie Lambert and members of the Baptist Church’s youth group are busy making little quilts to comfort small pets displaced by devastating wildfires in California.

By the end of this week, Lambert plans to have more than 100 quilts mailed out to shelters in Chico, Calif., where 150 cats have been taken in, and to the Humane Society of Ventura County.

The project was the inspiration of Lambert, who was introduced by Cathy Stolzfus to the Small Kennel Quilt Team, a volunteer organization sponsored by The Quilt Pattern Magazine. To date TQPM has sent over 24,000 kennel quilts to small animals affected by disaster.

Lambert, who has a foster cat of her own, stitched up 25 quilts on Nov. 14 and stayed up until 2 a.m. on Nov. 18 cutting more fabric. Those helping her with the project include Amber Wasson, Nancy Bishop, Keila Gonzalez and Monica Shaw.

On Nov. 18, the Baptist Church Youth Group gathered to help Lambert and Wasson make more quilts.

Wasson was looking for a service project for the youth group when she came across Lambert’s post about the quilts on Facebook.

She hopes that it will show the kids that they can help with problems going on in the world and feel like they can make a difference.

“To be a part of something,” Wasson said.  “That seems important.”

Lambert, who has resided in Cordova since 1982, had left over fabric from quilts she made for foster and hospice children and decided this would be the perfect way to use up the scraps.

Since September, she has mailed out more than 200 12-inch by 18-inch quilts for animals in need across the country, most recently for animals displaced due to Hurricane Florence and Michael.

“My longtime friend Julie Farnes gave me a bag of scrap fabrics from her quilts before she moved to Washington,” Lambert said. “She was killed in the Oso (Washington) landslide. I used the pink heart fabrics for three kennel quilts which were donated to the Alaqua Animal Refuse in Florida in her memory.”

Now Lambert’s focus is on animals displaced by wildfires raging out of control over a huge swath of California.

Three California wildfires, which all started on Nov. 8, have ravaged northern and southern parts of the state, killing more than 70 people and displacing thousands.

As of Nov. 18, the Camp Fire, Hill Fire and Woolsey Fire, combined, had burned 250,980 acres, equivalent to nearly six and a half times the land area of Cordova.

California’s deadliest fire, the Camp Fire, destroyed 9,700 residences, 367 commercial and 2,528 other buildings and at this point is 60 percent contained; Lambert’s husband, Roger Dehymer, has extended family who lost everything in this fire. The Woolsey Fire, near Los Angeles, which is 88 percent contained, destroyed 1,130 structures and damaged 300. The Hill Fire is 100 percent contained.

Animals around the state have been rescued from the fires and are currently at emergency pet shelters.

“I know how people feel about their pets,” said Lambert, as she cuts fabric and sews more little pet quilts. “Just a volunteer project that is near and dear to my heart I guess and I like to sew.”

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Emily Mesner is a staff reporter and photographer for The Cordova Times. Reach her at emesner@thecordovatimes.com. Emily graduated from Central Michigan University, earning a degree in photojournalism with a cultural competency certificate. She first visited Alaska in 2016, working as a media intern for the National Park Service in Kotzebue and Denali National Park and Preserve, and has been coming back ever since. To see more photos, follow @thecordovatimes and @emilymesnerphoto on Instagram.