Alvin and Marna Mizner of Warren are taking a whole new approach to giving back. While others donate money, they work with Domestic Sewing Center and Blankets of Love to help give quilts to seriously ill children.
"We make quilts," Marna said. "They're 40-by-40. In fact, I'm working on a Halloween one right now. I do the hand sewing and my husband does the machine sewing, so it is a couple's project. We do all different themes for holidays. Then we make little girl ones and I'll do cowboys for the boys, and they go to the hospitals in Trumbull, Mahoning and Columbiana counties - also the Shriners Hospital in Erie."
The Mizners have been marred 61 years. Alvin is retired from Warren City Schools where he worked with transportation and maintenance for 32 years, while Marna retired from Gilmore's Greenhouse. They started volunteering their time and energy about four years ago. Last year, they made 123 quilts. This year, they have surpassed that number in just six months.
Marna and Alvin Mizner of Warren spend their free time making quilts that are donated to Blankets of Love and given to seriously ill children at local hospitals.
Tribune Chronicle / Kayla Hanuschak
"We get more each year," Marna said. "Already this year we have turned in 149. You know, it was a bad winter, so we couldn't get out too much. We are senior citizens, and when the weather is bad we don't go, so we make quilts."
"We will probably make close to 200 this year," Alvin said. "We have Thanksgiving and Christmas coming up after Halloween, so we are way ahead of the season."
They complement each other when it comes to the duties that are required in making the quilts. They used to make the quilts that would fit queen- and king-sized beds in their basement, but now that they are older, they moved their station upstairs in their living room and the quilts are for twin-sized beds.
"I cut out the blocks and the wife puts out whatever she wants on there and then I sew the blocks together with the machine," Alvin said. "Whatever she puts on there, I sew them on with the machine. I sew the blocks together that make the quilt. After she gets the quilt made, I sew the outside on. That's the binding."
Generally, after they drop off the quilts at Domestic Sewing, they don't know where the blankets go or who gets them but, once in a while, they hear the fantastic stories of what happens to the quilts once they have reached the children.
"It makes you feel good," Marna said. "A lot of times we find somebody who knows a child that has gotten one and we'll hear their story and that feeling makes you feel good. We talked to a nurse once that worked at Boardman (location of Akron) Children's Hospital and she said that there was one little boy that they gave a quilt to and when it came time for him to go home, he didn't want to go. The nurse asked him why and he said 'because I would have to share it with my sister.'"
Marna keeps a photo album in her walker of most of the quilts that they have made together, so that she can show them to others and celebrate her talent. She said she gets most of her materials from garage and rummage sales. Domestic Sewing Center also gives them materials to work with. Marna said that sometimes when people find out what they are buying the material for, they are more than willing to donate items to them. Marna has also gotten patterns from coloring books and cookie cutters.
Alvin takes pride in the work that he and his wife do as well.
"Oh, certainly I like doing these with her," Alvin said. "Otherwise I wouldn't do it. I enjoy it because I know that no matter where it goes, it's going to make a difference in someone's life eventually."
Linda Fabrizio works at Domestic Sewing Center and is their direct contact for the Blankets of Love. She has been working with Alvin and Marna since they decided to help and completely dotes on them.
"They have really contributed a lot. I'm glad that they are getting some recognition," Fabrizio said. "It's unbelievable what they are doing. They are just wonderful. They are absolutely just wonderful people."
Blankets of Love meets the first and third Tuesday of the month at Domestic Sewing. All of the fabric and supplies to make the blankets are donated. They also make animal beds for the Animal Welfare League with some of the fabric that they can't use.
The program takes stuffed animals to the children along with the blankets. They are slightly used but the people at Blankets of Love fix them up so that they look brand new.
"We have already donated over 10,000 blankets," said. "It's all because of the great volunteers like Marna and Alvin. It's just phenomenal what they bring in. We are just the recipients of the great things that they can do for us and the community. They come through with their piles and piles of blankets with a smile on their face. They just are wonderful, wonderful, wonderful people. "
Although the bulk of the blankets go to Akron Children's Hospital, Blankets of Love also have delivered to Trumbull Memorial Hospital, St. Joseph Health Center, and Shriners Hospital in Erie, Pa.