Y-12 employees quilt for United Way

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Six Y-12 National Security Complex employees are quilting together in memory of coworker and friend Anita Stenseker. Stensaker died in December 2010 at age 74 following a massive stroke.

“She was tireless, an Energizer bunny,” said Anita's friend and co-worker Vicki Wilson. “She would break her neck helping the employee, talking with health care providers and getting necessary documentation. She ran circles around all of us in human resources. She went dancing the weekend she died. There’ll never be another one like her.”

In return, the six quilters have pieced together the “Anita Quilt” for the 2012 United Way campaign silent auction. The group calls themselves "Caring Hands."

"Caring Hands" says this quilt is a project that's come full circle. Anita, who loved to shop, saw a quilt from the group at a 2009 auction. She didn't buy it, but she found a way to help.

“Anita called me to offer her fabric stash to our group. I asked her why she would want to get rid of fabric she might want to use after she retired. Anita laughed and said she had no plans to do anything with it,” said “Caring Hands” member Dottie Kelly.

Anita was described as a tireless worker who went the extra mile for co-workers. She was known to throw showers for engaged couples and expectant moms. When she knew of a need, she responded with a gift. News of her death shocked and saddened many, including the members of “Caring Hands.”

“Anita left us that fabric for a reason, and we had to do something special with it. We decided that the best tribute to Anita’s generosity would be another quilt to benefit United Way agencies. We called it ‘the Anita Quilt’ from that day forward,” said Kelly.

The group of quilters enlisted the help of a local professional quilter to help them decide on a pattern and to select the fabrics from Anita’s collection. The “stacked brick” pattern they used for the “Anita Quilt” was a cross between the “flying geese” and “herringbone” patterns. The bricks in the pattern were all made from Anita’s fabric.

There are 1,182 pieces in the quilt, and the quilters estimate they spent more than 200 hours sewing them together. Once they had pieced the quilt top, they hired another professional quilter to custom design and machine quilt the masterpiece.

Bidding on the “Anita Quilt” was active during the company’s silent auction, and a gentleman determined to acquire it as a 50th-birthday present for his wife cast the winning bid. The quilt and other items in the auction netted approximately $10,250 for United Way of Greater Knoxville.

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