Bonita Quilters working with local philanthropist to help Ukrainian refugees

Published: May 13, 2022 9:25 AM EDT
Updated: May 13, 2022 9:34 AM EDT

A group of women in a Bonita Springs quilting group decided their efforts could be helpful to Ukrainian refugees and got to work helping a local philanthropist in sending aid.

The images and videos we are seeing from Ukraine struck a chord with Bonita Quilters, a group of around 60 women. They told leaders with the Collier Resource Center they want to get their bags and quilts to Ukraine.

While watching what’s happening in Ukraine, all Linda Selig could think about was the children and what they’ve had to carry.

“These bags are made for children who don’t have much, they don’t have their own suitcase, they’ve left without anything,” Selig said. “They can put all of their private things in here to take with them, so they don’t have to carry a plastic bag or a brown paper bag, they’ll have their own little tote bag to take. And we made a lot of these.”

When Bonita Quilters contacted the Collier Resource Center, the Center knew of just the right man to put them in touch with, one who was going to Ukraine next month.

“We knew that the Bonita Quilters had some quilts,” said Kari Lefort, CEO of the Collier Resource Center. “And we heard that Jack [Nortman] was going to Ukraine with quilts. And we were just so glad to be able to connect them and bring it about.”

The Collier Resource Center says it’s helping Ukrainian refugees right here in Southwest Florida and asked anyone who’s interested in contributing to contact it online.

“We have been able to get them clothing and furniture and household items,” Lefort said. “And we were able to do that because of our donors and our partners.”

All of the quilts and tote bags will be brought to the Ukraine-Poland border in June. Philanthropist Jack Nortman is trying to help the more than 6 million people who have fled Ukraine because his family story is one marked by the trauma of fleeing one’s country.

“We came over on the bottom of a boat,” Nortman said. “I don’t think my dad had 500 bucks, and we started a life. It’s really a refugee survival story. What’s happening today is no different.”

Nortman and his sister are going to the Ukraine-Poland border with medical supplies along with the quilts and tote bags from Bonita Quilters. Nortman says it’s something he can give refugees, along with encouragement

“I can tell them a little bit about my experience being a refugee, that we were where you are today,” Nortman said. “There is light at the end of the tunnel. The world is behind you, the world that 100% is behind you. We’re helping you. We’d like to do more. But we’re going to get you through this difficult time. Tell your husbands you’re being taken care of, they got their hands full fighting.”

Bonita Quilters made around 50 to 60 quilts for this donation.