Pam Donery admires quilts made by Ginny Mayer as Marine Corps veterans Frank Thornton, Ed Donery and Tom Keltner thank her for the donation to the Toys for Tots program. (Patricia Guthrie / Whidbey News Group)

Pam Donery admires quilts made by Ginny Mayer as Marine Corps veterans Frank Thornton, Ed Donery and Tom Keltner thank her for the donation to the Toys for Tots program. (Patricia Guthrie / Whidbey News Group)

Whidbey woman, 90, shares warmth, cheer with handmade quilts

Ginny Mayer’s stacks of quilts accompany new toys, bicycles, pajamas, games and electronics.

By Patricia Guthrie / Whidbey News Group

WHIDBEY ISLAND — At age 90, Ginny Mayer still has good eyes, a steady hand and a sharp memory.

And a big heart.

All those traits led her to create and donate four dozen colorful quilts for families in need. She made them after meeting a member of the Marine Corps League Detachment 1451 this spring.

“He told us how they like to give bedding during the Toys for Tots annual drive,” she said. “That’s when I started making kids quilts.”

She collected soft fabrics with animal prints, geometric shapes and bright colors, cut them into squares and mixed and matched them into rows. Each quilt measures 40 by 60 inches.

Earlier this month, Anita Smith helped Mayer deliver the quilts to this year’s Toys for Tots headquarters at the South Whidbey Community Center.

On hand were members of the Col. Richard “Buck” Francisco Marine Corps League Detachment 1451, Frank Thorton, Tom Keltner and Ed Donery, who are leading the South End Toys for Tots drive.

In a room dubbed “Holiday House,” Mayer’s stacks of quilts joined new toys, bicycles, pajamas, games, electronics, craft supplies and stuffed animals.

“We’ve probably picked up 500 to 600 toys so far and spent $18,000 in donations to buy them,” Thorton said.

Keltner called Mayer “an amazing lady” and showered her with compliments.

“They are so beautiful,” he said. “These quilts are like works of art.”

Smith, who leads Whidbey Island Quilters, said Mayer also helps the Quilts for Veterans program.

“She’s a giver,” Smith said. “She likes to make them in patriotic red, white and blue colors and patterns.”

Sewing is part of Mayer’s family legacy.

“I made my first quilt when I was 9 with my grandmother,” she recalled. Her five daughters wore homemade clothes growing up and learned all about patterns and prints, bobbins and buttons.

“The small quilts were so much fun to make because of the fun prints,” said Mayer, who has 12 grandchildren, as well as 13 great-grandchildren and another one on the way.

This story originally appeared in the South Whidbey Record, a sibling paper of The Daily Herald.

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