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.

More in News

Middle school principal bound for Central Washington

After four years in the South Whidbey position, James Swanson is headed home to Leavenworth.

Clinic set to address vaccine inequity

The clinic will be held 9-11 a.m., May 6 at Island Drug in Oak Harbor.

Worker will begin wrapping the Deception Pass bridge this month as they try to complete the project by the end of the year. The parking lot on Whidbey Island next to the bridge will be closed until March. WSDOT photo
Deception Pass bridge parking lot closed until March

The closure is supposed to ease access for construction crews as they work on the bridge.

County gets funds for jail, body cams, mental health

The state gave Island County more than $1.5 million for the jail, body cameras and health programs.

Like a hot potato, city drops food truck changes

Council members dropped their support for changing the food truck ordinance.

After a delay caused by the pandemic, developer Scott Thompson said construction of new homes may begin soon on the hillside across from Safeway. Photo by Emily Gilbert/Whidbey News-Times
More housing on horizon as projects move forward

A downtown Oak Harbor business will also be getting a big makeover.

Man accused of fleeing scene after causing collisions

Prosecutors charged Joshua M. Johnston in Island County Superior Court April 28 with vehicular assault, felony hit and run and misdemeanor hit and run.

No-show child porn suspect sought on a $20,000 warrant

A North Whidbey man’s arraignment was scheduled for Monday, but he didn’t appear.

Whidbey cookbook project encourages children to eat healthy

Recipe submissions for the project are now welcome.

Most Read