MOUNT JACKSON – Madelyne Donovan, 87, got into sewing at a young age.
“My mother taught me to sew,” Donovan said. “She just loved to sew. By the time I was 9, I knew how to sew zippers onto clothes.”
Donovan has a small sewing room in her home in Mount Jackson, where she has made over 500 quilts she donates to nursing homes throughout Shenandoah County. She said she does it not for profit, but to make people happy.
“I like to see them very happy when I give it to them,” Donovan said. “I see joy. People in nursing homes are often forgotten.”
Donovan said it takes her about three to four hours to complete a quilt.
“I used to do three a day, but now I’m doing one a day,” she said.
Donovan said that making the quilts also helps her forget about her troubles and to keep her going.
“It makes me happy,” she said. “It keeps me busy. That’s why I’m living so long.”
Because of her age, Donovan enlists the help of her daughters – two of whom live eight hours away – to help deliver the bags of quilts.
“If it wasn’t for my daughters, I wouldn’t be able to do this,” she said. “They come here every so often to help me out. I treasure them.”
To date, Donovan has donated quilts to over 10 nursing homes in Shenandoah County.
Carrington Smith, director of the Skyline Terrace Nursing Home in Woodstock, said that Donovan brought in 92 quilts to the nursing home on March 22.
“I had no idea they were coming,” she said. “A receptionist called me and said that someone brought quilts to the residents. And I said OK, we’ll get some thank yous out. A few minutes later, I got another call about these beautiful, handmade quilts that were brought in. The person who called me said I needed to come down there.”
Smith said she was shocked when she saw how many quilts were brought into the home.
“There were several trash bags full of them,” she said. “Her daughters brought them in and she was sitting in the car and we invited her in to help hand them out and interact with the residents.”
Smith said that the residents were happy with the quilts and every resident got a quilt.
“Many of the residents hugged her and thanked her for the quilts,” she said. “One resident got out of bed and hugged her and told her 'God bless.' She made everybody happy.”
Donovan said that she will make and donate quilts to any organization, church or nursing home that reaches out to her. She will continue her work on quilts for the foreseeable future.
“I’ve got all of the material in the world,” Donovan said. “My kids bring me more material and backing for the quilts.”
Correction: This story has been updated. Madelyn Donovan's name was misspelled in this story.