The Giving Bee

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One woman started volunteering — making cloth bags and quilts — after hearing that children taken into the foster care system are removed from their homes with very little personal items put into a black plastic bag. A group of women, on learning about this, started making cloth bags for foster children and filled them with socks, underwear and toothbrushes.

The Giving Bee is a group of quilters whose heartstrings were tugged by the stories of foster care children. Love for both children and quilting brought these women together into an organized effort to provide colorful, sturdy bags and quilts for children being removed from their homes.

The women now meet at Volunteers of America Western Nebraska's office in Lewellen, to make bags and quilts. They have decided that every child taken into foster care will be given a quilt of their own. As they made more and more quilts they have branched out and now give quilts to areas all over the panhandle!

In April 2014, The Giving Bee received First Lady Sally Ganem's Outstanding Community Service Award; Volunteer Group of the Year. The First Lady's Outstanding Community Service Awards Ceremony honors individuals and groups who go above-and-beyond in addressing the needs of their communities and bettering the quality of life for their fellow Nebraskans. The First Lady's Outstanding Community Service Awards reflect First Lady Sally Ganem's lifelong passion for education. These awards are presented annually and honor exemplary students, adults, and community groups in a variety of categories.

The Garden County Ladies currently committed to this project are Barb Miller, Sue Read, Ruby Rittenhouse, Norma Stokey, Donna Willenberg, and Janet Trompke.

As of June 30, 2016 a total of 1,303 quilts and 621 bags have been provided to foster children in the Nebraska Panhandle, North Platte, and McCook.