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Not Just Any Hat; Ozark Piecemakers Quilt Guild Sews Headwear for Cancer Patients

Morgan Austin
Sue Griffith and Sonja Johnson with the Ozark Piecemakers Quilt Guild.

The Ozark Piecemakers Quilt Guild, in partnership with the American Cancer Society, is hoping to donate more hand-sewn hats this year to cancer patients with the help of local residents. This is the second year that the two organizations joined forces to provide head coverings for those in need. Last year, the guild was able to sew more than 1000 hats for patients, said guild member Emma Talbot during Friday’s sew-in.

“We try to make 500, twice a year, when we have the sew-in. We usually make a little more because we always end up cutting more. Today we probably have closer to 600, and if we don’t get them finished up today, members will take them home and finish them.”

Credit Morgan Austin / KSMU
A group of volunteers help sew during the Ozark Piecemakers sew-in, held twice a year.

Established in 1981, the Piecemakers began to sew hats for those who’ve received chemotherapy. During the treatment hair follicles can be damaged by the chemicals, making the hair fall out. Some patients wish to cover their heads with scarves, wigs, or hats; which is where the quilters come in. Sue Griffith, Piecemakers event coordinator, says the hats and ‘sleep caps’ that the organization makes are priceless to the cancer patient they aid.

“When they’re in the process of losing the hair, the sleep caps are really nice because they will collect the hair. They can shake it out of the cap; they don’t have to change their sheets every day. They don’t have to go through that emotional deal of having it in their hands.”

After its first year of donations, the demands for these hats in southwest Missouri have grown. Talbot, like other members, connects personally with the cause.

“Almost every family in our membership, someone in the family has had cancer. A lot of them have lost people to cancer. Our guild is really involved in doing things in the community and we have a lot of projects, but this is one that’s probably more close to our members’ hearts than any other one project that we do because cancer touches everyone.”

The guild urges people, both inside and outside of Greene County, to volunteer their time to help. Sewing skills are not necessary to aid in this endeavor, as “helpers” are also needed to pin the fabric pieces together; speeding up the sewing process.

Other sewing communities are urged to join in the sew-ins and help to provide much needed head wear to patients of American Cancer Society. To find out when a sew-in is scheduled, contact Sue Griffith at 417-880-2465 or visit the Ozark Piecemakers Quilt Guild website.