A LABOUR of love is how the women of River City Community Quilters regard their gift of a queen size patchwork quilt to a local organisation that supports grandparents who must be full-time parents for their grandchildren.
The organisation is Grandparents As Parents Again (GAPA) and the group has been helping local families for about eight years. The quilt is the major prize in a raffle that will fund a GAPA respite camp in December.
GAPA president Ann Battishall said membership of GAPA was increasing but government support had "fallen dramatically".
"In NSW there are about 11,000 children being raised by their grandparent carers giving them a ratio of three to one over foster carers," Mrs Battishall explained.
"Unlike foster carers, grandparent carers receive little support from either the federal or State governments and in fact, in the last two years that support has fallen dramatically. In such a climate it is hard for associations to survive but to our credit our membership has grown and services maintained."
Those services include a hotline, respite care, respite camps, social outings, chaplain services, outreach programs, home visits and advocacy.
River City Community Quilters (RCCQ) has been a long-time supporter of GAPA and Mrs Battishall said that "without these great people we would not be able to give our members the services they so richly deserve."
According to RCCQ co-ordinator, Denece Unicomb more than 120 hours of work over three months has been invested in the quilt by 15 members of RCCQ who are from Taree, Nabiac, Gloucester, Nerong and Stewarts River. All the materials required to produce the quilt came from the women who worked to create it, with the exception of the wadding which was donated by the Rotary Club of Taree North.
"The members of RCCQ provide these quilts from their own financial resources and as you can imagine, it can be very expensive to produce quilts year after year for our communities," Mrs Unicomb explained.
"Donations such as those from the Taree North Rotary Club help tremendously to enable us to continue. Financial donations are the most appropriate but we accept donations of fabrics, threads, sewing machines in good working condition or anything that you would find in a sewing room. The quilt wadding is our greatest expense and runs into hundreds of dollars on a regular basis."
Mrs Unicomb said hundreds of quilts had been donated to various organisations including Taree Community Health, Manning Base Hospital, Gloucester Retirement Facility, Westmead, Precious Hearts, GAPA and many others.
"We have just started to provide quilts to people who are living without accommodation on the streets and quilts have been sent to flood victims in Queensland and bush fire victims in Coonabarabran and more recently the Blue Mountains," Mrs Unicomb said.
GAPA is a regular recipient of support from RCCQ with its members providing a quilt to every new GAPA grandchild at Christmas.
To purchase a ticket in the quilt raffle contact Mrs Battishall 0402 559 849 or to support or join the RCCQ contact Mrs Unicomb on 0407 819 611.