Frank Thorton, of Marine Corps League Detachment 1451, speaks with Ginny Mayer, who stitched together four dozen kid-size quilts. They are being given away to families in need through Toys for Tots and Holiday House at South Whidbey Community Center. (Photo by Patricia Guthrie/Whidbey News Group)

Frank Thorton, of Marine Corps League Detachment 1451, speaks with Ginny Mayer, who stitched together four dozen kid-size quilts. They are being given away to families in need through Toys for Tots and Holiday House at South Whidbey Community Center. (Photo by Patricia Guthrie/Whidbey News Group)

Mayer spreads Christmas warmth, cheer

Kids quilts made with love by 90-year-old seamstress

At age 90, Ginny Mayer still has good eyes, a steady hand and a sharp memory.

And a big heart.

All those traits led her to create and donate four dozen colorful quilts for families in need this Christmas. She made them after meeting a member of the Marine Corps League Detachment 1451 this spring.

“He told us how they like to give bedding during the Toys for Tots annual drive,” she said. “That’s when I started making kids’ quilts.”

She found many different soft fabrics with animal prints, geometric shapes and bright colors, cut them into squares and mixed and matched them into rows. Each quilt measures 40 by 60 inches.

Tuesday, Anita Smith helped Mayer deliver the quilts to this year’s Toys for Tots headquarters at the South Whidbey Community Center.

On hand were members of the Col. Richard “Buck” Francisco Marine Corps League Detachment 1451, Frank Thorton, Tom Keltner and Ed Donery, who are leading the South End Toys for Tots drive.

In a room dubbed “Holiday House,” Mayer’s stacks of quilts joined an explosion of new toys, bicycles, pajamas, games, electronics, craft supplies and stuffed animals.

“We’ve probably picked up 500 to 600 toys so far and spent $18,000 in donations to buy them,” Thorton said.

Keltner called Mayer “an amazing lady” and showered her with quilted compliments.

“They are so beautiful,” he said. “These quilts are like works of art.”

Smith, who leads Whidbey Island Quilters, said Mayer also helps the Quilts for Veterans program.

“She’s a giver,” Smith said. “She likes to make them in patriotic red, white and blue colors and patterns.”

Sewing is stitched into Mayer’s genes.

“I made my first quilt when I was 9 with my grandmother,” she recalled. Her five daughters wore homemade clothes growing up and then learned all about patterns and prints, bobbins and buttons themselves.

“The small quilts were so much fun to make because of the fun prints,” said Mayer, who has 12 grandchildren, 13 great grandchildren and another one on the way.

Because so many relatives sew, Mayer jokes that the pressure is off the eldest seamstress in the family.

“They already have my quilts,” she said. “Because I don’t have to make them for family, I’m free to make them for others.”

Pam Donery, left, admires quilts made by Ginny Mayer, seated, as Marine Corps veterans Frank Thornton, Ed Donery and Tom Keltner thank her for the donation to the Toys for Tots program. (Photos by Patricia Guthrie/Whidbey News Group)

Pam Donery, left, admires quilts made by Ginny Mayer, seated, as Marine Corps veterans Frank Thornton, Ed Donery and Tom Keltner thank her for the donation to the Toys for Tots program. (Photos by Patricia Guthrie/Whidbey News Group)

Anita Smith looks at the stacks of children’s quilts made by 90-year-old Ginny Mayer.

Anita Smith looks at the stacks of children’s quilts made by 90-year-old Ginny Mayer.

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