When Diane Canney’s mother reached a milestone birthday during quarantine, Canney found herself inspired to make a difference during this surreal era. “I have a very active 95-year-old mother,” says Canney, an artist who also owns both Sunset Hills Vineyard and 50 West Vineyard in NoVA. “She asked me to do something that would help the community. My mother, at her age, said ‘What can we do to help people?’ Her generation was very community-minded.” Before long, Canney decided she would create a crowdsourced quilt honoring the men and women on the front lines of the pandemic, as well as all those who we’ve lost since spring. She says she asked herself, “‘How do we honor those people, show gratitude and memorialize the people who have died before they’re forgotten?’ We can’t all stand outside our apartments in New York City [and cheer for first responders].”
So, in an era when many people are still looking for activities they can do safely at home, she launched the COVID-19 U.S. Honor Quilt. She spread the word throughout NoVA and across the country that she was accepting quilt squares, and they began to pour in. At press time, she’s got 300 10-inch square panels and will continue collecting as long as people keep sending them. Her plan is to have quilters stitch together (in a COVID-safe manner, she notes) as many 6-foot square quilts as the panels will allow—and she hopes that some of them will one day be displayed in the Smithsonian to create “a historical time capsule once COVID is behind us.” She’s organized socially distant outdoor events throughout the DMV where people can make quilt squares, and she plans to do more as long as the weather will allow. Squares have come in from as far as California, but the state she’s gotten a surplus of quilt squares from? Florida. Her mother, who lives there, and her friends have been furiously creating them as a way to give back.