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Jefferson Award Winner: Rich Webber

Chippewa Falls (WQOW) – During the season of giving, a Chippewa Falls man is giving the gift of warmth to the needy in his community.

Rich Webber has had a hand in crafting hundreds of quilts, distributed to the less fortunate throughout the community through the Spirit of Christmas organization.

That is why he is this month’s Jefferson Award winner.

As Webber is crafting Christmas joy in his workshop, he does not have elves helping him like the jolly man up north.

“It’s just strictly a hobby, I don’t do it for a business,” Webber said.

Webber is in the business of giving. A man who had never picked up a needle and thread is now creating quilts for the less fortunate, after an impulse purchase while shopping with his wife.

“It was a small machine, I had it for three, four years and then I got the larger one,” Webber said. “So, that’s how I got into the quilting part.”

In the 11 years that have followed, he’s created roughly 825 quilts. The hours spend on them is harder to calculate, but he estimates it is in the thousands.

Webber has spent a lifetime in service, starting with 20 years in the Air Force, with deployments across the globe. He’s also helped his community in Chippewa Falls through the American Legion, Big Brothers and now helping with the Spirit of Christmas.

“It’s always nice to see it completed,” Webber said. “You have to take pride in your work in order to make it look like it’s really a good project.”

The quilts he creates are finished by members of the Stitching Pals, a group through the Chippewa Falls Senior Center.

“I call them my quilts, but the women, they make those quilts and they furnish their own materials. No one gets paid for them, but they’re still my quilts,” Webber said.

Once complete, they provide warmth for those in need during the holiday season.

“The time involved for the whole year finally shows up,” he said. “You can finally see what you spent your time on.”

That time, starts all over again as Webber begins the work of spreading joy for next Christmas.

“I have seen so many people that come in there, they’re so needy, and they have tears in their eyes,” Webber said. “It just makes you feel so good when you see that.”

The 88 quilts featured in our story were all donated to the Spirit of Christmas and will be distributed to families throughout the area. Webber said his machine could only pump out 88 before it broke down. Not to worry, the new parts will be here by Monday so he can begin on next year’s donations.

If you know a volunteer in our area that is making a difference, click here to nominate them for a Jefferson Award. 

Stephen Kelley

Stephen Kelley joined the News 18 team in August 2006. He is currently the Executive Producer.

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