A Different Kind of Gift Keeps Local Patients Cozy
Loraine Berge is a long-time supporter of Grand River Hospital who knows that donating money isn’t the only way to make a difference. Since retiring nine years ago, Loraine has donated an astounding 2,689 comfort quilts to patients at a number of health care organizations, including Grand River Hospital.
As a supporter for more than 60 years, Loraine first began giving to the hospital at Christmas time when her family decided to stop giving gifts to one another during the holidays, opting instead to donate the money to Grand River Hospital. Her husband Ray is also a cancer survivor, so she knows first hand what it is like when a loved one is sick and can empathize with the patients she meets at the hospital.
Since beginning to donate her quilts, Loraine has heard from people from all walks of life who share stories of how her quilts have brought comfort to them or someone they love. She staples little business-sized cards to each quilt she donates so the recipients know who made them, and many people have reached out to her to express their gratitude over the years.
“I know that people really appreciate the quilts. I’ve got numerous thank you notes back ... and I’ve gotten a few phone calls,” Loraine said.
One that was particularly meaningful to her was from a little boy who received a quilt when he was very sick. His doctors didn’t know what was wrong with him, and they thought he was going to pass away. But miraculously, he recovered.
“I got the cutest card from him, and he was just a little guy,” Loraine recalled. "He said, ‘Thank you for the blanket’ — and you know that his mother or father worked with him — and he drew little pictures of different things on the sheet of paper as well … That was one of the most touching ones I got.”
She’s also received some memorable and heartwarming responses from adults too.
“I got a phone call from a lady from Drayton, and her husband had been in the cancer unit,” Loraine said. “She had a lot of afghans, and she would give him afghans to cover up and keep warm because he always felt cold. And I gave him this quilt and then he said, ‘I don’t want your afghans. They’ve got too many holes in them. This blanket keeps me warm.’ And she said that man, who had passed away [by this point], took that blanket into every room with him and said he was comfortable with that blanket around his shoulders. So, you know, there’s all kinds of stories like that, and it is just amazing what a gift will do for people who are ill.”
Another notable experience happened when Loraine visited dialysis patients at Grand River Hospital.
“A few years ago they allowed me to go into the [dialysis unit]. One of the gals from the foundation walked around with me, and we handed out quilts on the two different floors," she said. "And one guy — I don’t know, [he was a] tough looking guy — he didn’t want a quilt. We went on to the next bed and he says, “Changed my mind. I want one,” so we went back … I was trying to pick out what I felt was suitable for [each] person, so I gave him one with hockey prints on. We were down a couple more beds and he says in a real loud voice, ‘I got the best damn quilt of anybody!’ [Loraine laughs] It was really funny.”
Loraine first began quilting with grandmother as a small child at about five years old, and she has continued to quilt throughout her whole adult life. But for a long time, she never even thought of donating her quilts to local hospital patients—like many of us, she didn’t realize that there were so many different ways to donate and offer support.
“[I] never thought of donating anything. I always thought a donation had to be money,” Loraine explained. Now, she knows that gifts-in-kind, like her quilts, can be just as meaningful, if not more so.
Visit Ways to Give to learn about all the ways you can give back. Use your passion to help others and make a difference for patients at our local hospitals.