May 28th, 2024

Teddy bears and pillow cases filling a need for comfort

By Dale Woodard - Lethbridge Herald on November 23, 2021.

Herald photo by Dale Woodard - B.J. Squarek, owner of Fabric Fusion, at left, along with Thelma Brown and Rachel Curtis, 11, stand next to a mountian of pillow cases and teddy bears that will be shipped out to local organizations.

Thanks to a needlepoint initiative, some heads will rest comfortably.
There will also be some plush toys to snuggle up to as well.
On Saturday afternoon, Fabric Fusion Inc. unveiled 1,000 pillow cases and 47 teddy bears to be given out to local organizations.
A product of some tireless handiwork by both Fabric Fusion. customers and staff, the project originally began prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Pre-COVID, one of the companies I deal with in the States, Kimberbell Designs, had put out this pattern for these bears and they’re all done on our embroidery machines,” said B.J. Squarek, owner of Fabric Fusion. “Their premise behind it all was to make the bears and then donate them to the community. But they put it out as a free pattern for everybody. So we kind of took that and ran with it.”
Prior to the pandemic, Squarek said the plan was to have a teddy bear picnic and have volunteers make them.
“We donated all the fabric and materials to do it. They were going to come in, sit and sew and have a great day. COVID cancelled that and with all of the uncertainty we left it.”
During that time some of the volunteers picked up the kits and fabric, which Fabric Fusion donated, and worked from home.
“They did all that for us and we did get one day in there,” said Squarek. “We called them together and we did a bunch more.”
The pillowcase project started about three years ago.
“We only did about 100 at that point,” said Squarek.
Those pillowcases went to a friend of Squarek’s who works at a resident care facility.
“She said it went so well. That’s when I thought that I have that fabric, so let’s do this, let’s do over 1,000. That’s a crazy number, but let’s see if we can reach it and we did.”
Squarek said a worker from Victim Services came in recently and discovered the teddy bears. 
“He said the kids they encounter would absolutely love them. It’s their 30th year in operation this year, so we’re going to donate the bears to them.”
For the pillow cases, it was simply a case of having the inventory sitting around after purchasing it.
“So we wanted to give back somehow and how do you give back thousands of meters of fabric?” said Squarek. “My staff have been amazing and cut the kits up for the pillow cases and we put the challenge out to all our customers. All they had to do was come in, pick up the kits, take them home, make them and bring them back.
“I was kind of teasing when I said 1,000, but they answered the call. I couldn’t have done it without my staff because they put in hours and hours cutting the kits. 
That was especially the case for volunteer Thelma Brown, who made 528 pillow cases, more than half the pile on display Saturday afternoon.
As of Saturday Victim Services, Coaldale Health Centre, the YWCA and Sunny South Lodge in Coaldale have been confirmed as beneficiaries of the pillow case initiative.
“The quilting and sewing community is fantastic,” said Squarek. “These ladies are always giving back. We have a pretty big community.”

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