Debbie Purchase holding the quilt she donated to the Fort Smith Ukrainian Relief Fund raffle. Sandra Jaque/Cascade Graphics
Debbie Purchase designed, sewed, and donated a quilt to a recent Ukraine Relief Fund raffle in Fort Smith. In a twist of fate, a resident of Ukrainian heritage won it.
The raffle, held earlier this month, supports Ukraine in the country’s ongoing defence against Russian forces.
Though Purchase, owner and operator of Debbie’s Sewing in Fort Smith, had been crafting the quilt long before the war began, the quilt reflects Ukraine’s flag and national flower, the sunflower.
Her daughter, she said, had wanted “a quilt with blue and yellow in it and some flowers,” so Purchase started sewing the quilt in October. She said the work, spread out over time so it “seems like months,” usually amounts to a week in total.
“I get goosebumps. The quilt was made for a reason,” said Purchase of its eventual connection to Ukraine.
“To me, it was something that you couldn’t predict. You couldn’t have planned it any better.”
When her daughter changed her mind about the design, Debbie felt compelled to finish the quilt anyway and hung it in her shop. Visitors like Sandra Jaque, an organizer of the Fort Smith Ukrainian Relief Fund, were quick to take notice. Purchase decided to donate the quilt.
“I was just so proud to have it go somewhere and for a good cause,” she said.
It’s tradition for quilters to include a patch that states who the quilt was made for and name of the person who made it, sometimes adding a small message. Once Purchase decided to donate the quilt to the raffle, she added a patch that reads “Peace for Ukraine” with her business name, location, and the date it was donated.
At the raffle, which raised $2,140 for the fund, the quilt went to Beverly Chepelsky, a Fort Smith local of Ukrainian heritage.
“[The quilt] was made for something else, then it turned out to be the Ukrainian colours and the flower, and then to have it won by a Ukrainian descendant – It makes me speechless,” said Purchase.
Jaque said the fund also received $1,000 from the Métis Local and had previously raised a further $2,000 from cash donations and sales of Ukrainian and Canadian flag lapel pins.
She said the Fort Smith Ukrainian Relief Fund was hoping to find an organization that matches donations before sending the money to the Red Cross.