PORTLAND, Ore. -- Doesn’t it often seem like it is those with the least who give the most? That’s certainly true of Diana Mills. She doesn’t have much in the way of worldly possessions, but boy can she make a quilt.
In fact, she has made nearly 7,600 of them during her 17 years as a member of the Gateway Elks Lodge.
“How many quilts do you think you make in a year then?” I asked. Diana did a little calculating and announced, “Last year I made 1,100 quilts.”
Gateway Elks leader Jim Schuermyer said they have a special name for Diana. “The Quilting Queen is what we call her,” said Jim. “She is a wonderful lady that just gives and gives and gives.”
Yes, Diana gives all the quilts away. Her scrapbook is overflowing with pictures and thank you notes from countless charities and individuals.
“These are the twin ones I did for the camp, and then the kids took them home,” said Diana, showing me a picture of the special quilts.
Diana is on disability and doesn’t have much money, so the Elks donate the fabric and notions. But it is Diana that does the cutting, the sewing and the tying by hand. She learned to quilt by her mother’s side as a little girl. Her mom is gone now, but never far away when she is quilting. Maybe that’s why she is always quilting.
“Probably because of my mom. I really loved my mom,” said Diana. “So to honor my mom, I keep doing them.”
Her latest stack of cozy blankets is welcomed at Doernbecher Children’s Hospital. She’s made hundreds of quilts for children going through a tough time.
“If you can help calm a child down or build some trust with a child, come in with a blanket, put it on their bed and say this is yours, it makes a difference,” said Sandy Westfall the Director of the Child Life Department at Doernbecher.
For Diana, that is reward enough. “The payment I get is the smile on their face when they receive it,” she said.
Enough for a woman who is giving away a piece of her heart, and the memory of her mother, one quilt at a time.