'Helpful Friends' to raffle batik quilt

On the first and third Mondays of every month, 25 women from Clayton and Henry counties meet at Quilts and Fixins in Jonesboro, pull out their quilting pins and needles, and try to do some good in the world.

For about 12 years, the Helpful Friends Quilting Group has been putting its skills to use, assembling quilts for injured soldiers, preparing care packages for soldiers in the field, making "binky" blankets for displaced children in Afghanistan and Iraq, and security blankets for children in the care of the Clayton County Department of Family and Children Services (DFACS), and quilting personalized pillowcases for cancer patients at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta hospitals.

In order to keep its good works going, Helpful Friends is hosting its first-ever raffle-quilt fund-raiser.

From now until Nov. 15, Quilts and Fixins will sell raffle tickets for a batik-style quilt, which is valued at more than $600, according to Helpful Friends President Marilyn Speak. She said proceeds from the raffle will go toward purchasing materials for various charity projects, which the group undertakes throughout the year.

"I think that all of us are interested in helping people who are less fortunate," Speak said. "We have many people who are ex-military or the wives of former military. Especially with the children ... we know that children need something that is comfortable for them while they are being dragged from pillar to post," she said. "It [the blankets] give them a sense of continuity. It is something that belongs to them that should go wherever they go."

According to Speak, the Helpful Friends Quilting Group has assembled nearly 200 quilts of various sizes over the past year. The group's charity projects, she said, include: "Quilts of Valor," which provides quilts for injured soldiers, prepares care packages, and makes thermal and anti-thermal neckwear for soldiers in extreme temperatures; "From Our Hearts," which provides quilts to traumatized children in the community, primarily those in the foster care system; "Binky Brigade," which furnishes quilts for children in war zones, as a bridge to better relations; "ConKerr Cancer," which provides pillowcases for child cancer patients; bereavement baskets for Southern Regional Medical Center for parents who have lost a newborn child; quilts to raise funds for the Clayton County Humane Society; and quilts to support Josephine's House for Alzheimer's Support, which is under construction in Clayton County.

Ticket's for Helpful Friend's raffle quilt will be on sale until Nov. 15, for $1 per ticket, or $5 for six tickets. The batik-style quilt, which utilizes a hand-dyeing technique popular in south Asian culture, took the group almost a year to make, Speak said.

Helpful Friends Treasurer Erika Moxley said she hopes the project will improve awareness about the group's many charity works. "We decided to do a raffle-quilt program, so we could afford to buy the blocks and backing for our charity quilts," she said. "For a small group, we do a lot of charity projects. We've never done a raffle quilt. It may make the community more aware of what we are doing."

The prize drawing for the quilt will take place on Nov. 15, at Quilts and Fixins, according to Moxley. Quilts and Fixins is located at 7986 North Main Street, in Jonesboro. For more information about the raffle quilt, call (770) 756-9224.