Community advocate seeking quilts, quilt materials for Almeda Fire victim

MEDFORD, Ore. —  A community advocate is working hard to gather handmade quilts for a woman who lost everything in the Almeda Fire.

Unaware of the fiery storm outside, Sherry Abbott sat at home on September 8th, 2020 startled by hard knocking on her front door. “I think I was in shock because I didn’t know there was a fire,” she told me.

A police officer was at her door, telling her a homeowner’s worst nightmare – she had only 3 minutes to evacuate.

“I had enough time to grab her [pet dog], my pills, my purse, and cell phone and I was out the door,” she said.

Abbott says she watched her home catch fire as she left, “I kept thinking maybe I could go back, but I knew in my subconscious it wasn’t going to happen.”

With no living family to help her, Abbott resorted to staying with friends, and in her car, until she found an apartment.

Now, she’s waiting to move into a house being built where her old home once stood.

She’s also excited to get back to quilting, a passion she’s pursued for the last 25 years.

“I had 10 [quilts] that were in the process of being worked on and it’s kind of heartbreaking to lose all that because you put your heart and soul into something and have it disappear in just a second.”

Abbott recently struck up a conversation with an Ashley Homestore employee while looking for new furniture.

Little did she know, she was speaking to a community advocate, Debbie Saxbury, who wants to help get her back to quilting as soon as possible.

“I took the time to ask her her story, and she shared all that with me and I found out her love for quilts – and how that embraced her entire life because she has no family,” said Saxbury.

Saxbury says she’s working on collecting any and all quilting materials she can, along with handmade quilts, to give to Abbott.

“I’d like as many quilts as I can get because if she can put one in every room, every chair, on the walls of her house, she would be so thrilled.”

Saxbury says it doesn’t just stop there.

She says a local sewing club is in the process of donating an older sewing machine to Abbott, as well.

“It takes a village, it’s a complete community that makes this happen for one person, two people, a family – and that’s what we’re doing here,” said Saxbury.

“It blesses my heart because I’ve learned through this whole experience how wonderful the community can be,” Abbott said in response to Saxbury’s help.

Abbott is expecting to move into her new home sometime in September.

If you’re wanting to donate towards the cause, quilting supplies can be dropped off at the Ashley Homestore off of Crater Lake Highway.

You can also contact Debbie Saxbury directly for more information at 541-200-5246.

NBC5 News reporter Mariah Mills is a Medford native. She graduated from the University of Oregon with a Bachelor's Degree in journalism. She also minored in sociology. In school, she covered Oregon athletics for the student-run television station, Duck TV. When she's not reporting, she’s reading, hiking and rooting for her favorite teams, the Seattle Seahawks and the Oregon Ducks.
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