By Sharon Chin

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) Quilting has become the fabric of Linda Hannawalt’s life.

“Quilts mean something to people,” Hannawalt said thoughtfully. “We call them a fabric hug.”

Hannawalt and her 100 volunteers at QuiltWorks, the San Francisco nonprofit she founded four years ago, distribute hundreds of handcrafted gifts a year to the homeless, veterans, low income families, and most recently, foster children.

“Our goal this year is 800 to 1000 quilts,” she explained. “The children were all so excited about the pillowcases.”

Her latest project targets 18-year-olds who grow out of foster care.

“What broke my heart is I was told they don’t have suitcases when they age out,” she said. “They hand them a garbage bag to put their belongings in. And I said, ‘No.'”

So Hannawalt asked the Delancey Street Foundation to help sew hundreds of personalized duffel bags, along with a quilt, pillowcase, and other necessities she purchases on discount. She gives them as birthday gifts to emancipated foster children.

“At least they will have something that’s theirs on day one,” she said.

Board Member Alice Thomas admires Hannawalt’s endless energy.

“She just has that magic power,” Thomas said with a laugh. ‘It’s like she wiggles her nose and poof, it’s done.”

Hannawalt funds the nonprofit mostly out of her own pocket. She purchased all the quilting and sewing machines, bought fabric from more than a dozen stores that closed, and converted rooms from her two condos for sewing and supplies.

She also runs a boutique where she sells donated and handmade crafts to fund QuiltWorks’ programs.

Next door, she operates a fabric store where at-risk young people get hands-on job training.

Intern Faijon Ekah says she sews seeds of wisdom.

“No matter how tall you are, you’re not really tall unless you bend down to help someone else,” he said, sharing some of her wisdom.

So for giving a “fabric hug” to thousands of young people in need, this week’s Jefferson Award in the Bay Area goes to Linda Hannawalt.

Comments (2)