How many stitches does it take?

I have big news this week. I am a great-aunt! Zoey Elizabeth arrived on Thursday, weighing in at 7 pounds, 7 ounces. I know it is a stretch to make such an announcement in the Peabody Gazette-Bulletin since little Zoey and her parents live in Denver, but watch as I segue from her birth right back to the Peabody community.

We are lucky to have a generous group of women in our community who spend untold hours making quilts and quilted accessories which they sell to raise money for playground equipment at our city park. I don’t know if you readers know how much playground equipment costs, but it is a high priced commodity. There is little money in the city budget to pay for repairs, much less modern upscale equipment. In the past few years, the city has come under fire for having some recreation items at the park that create a problem for the city’s liability insurance coverage.

Generous funds from the Gladys Hart estate, donated in the late 1970s, have been spent and some of the playground equipment, purchased with the money she left, has been removed because it is no longer safe; more needs to be repaired, but there is no money to take care of that expense.

The quilters who keep an eye on the park and its amenities call themselves the Peabody Community Quilt Project. Most of the members are my age or older. They no longer have children who enjoy the park playground. Some of them have grandchildren who do, but most of them simply believe that Peabody City Park is a terrific plus for the community. For them, it is a quality of life issue.

They believe our park should be enjoyed. They appreciate the historic aspects and want them maintained. They want the trees, shrubs, and flower beds fed and watered. They want the sports complex, the pool, and the playground equipment to be in good shape, ready to serve the community and its guests. And they want the picnic, playground, and shelter house areas to be clean and functional when people use them.

All of this costs money. Since the city has little to spend, the Peabody Community Quilt Project members spend a couple afternoons a month creating quilts and accessories to help eliminate the shortfall. Together their cutting, piecing, pressing, and quilting have raised more than $20,000 since 2001 for Peabody parks. That is pretty impressive!

Several months ago I commissioned baby Zoey’s quilt, we negotiated a price, and the PCQP members finished it right on time. Thursday, when I picked it up, Alice Stucky told me the group would be thrilled to have additional volunteers step up and help with the project.

You needn’t be an expert quilter—you just need to have a couple of hours a month to donate. Jobs include measuring and cutting fabric, pressing seams, machine stitching, as well as decorating or baking for product sales and promotions. Are you a young mom with kids who enjoy our city park? Gather your friends and sign up to help. If you are the ones pressing seams and cutting fabric, those quilting grandmothers can produce ever so much more to sell and that means ever so much more support for community parks. Contact Alice and she will point you in the right direction.

Now we get back to baby Zoey who, next week, will receive a custom-made Peabody Community Quilt Project baby quilt from her great-aunt Susan. The Peabody Community Quilt Project is something I am happy to support—the PCQP women are easy to deal with, I get exceptional one-of-a kind handcrafted gifts at a reasonable cost, and the check I write stays in the community and helps support one of the best city parks I have seen.

Baby Zoey and I are sharing a high five for Peabody parks—how about you?

— SUSAN MARSHALL

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