Fifth-graders make quilts to keep AIDS babies warm

April 07, 1994|By Kris Antonelli | Kris Antonelli,Sun Staff Writer

7/8 TC Peggy Smith, an art teacher at Broadneck Elementary School, never expected such an enthusiastic response to her idea of getting students to make quilts for babies with the AIDS virus.

But about 40 fifth-graders have been giving up their recess periods several days a week to come to Ms. Smith's class room to work on small quilts for babies in the University of Maryland Medical System Pediatric AIDS Program.

"They were so excited about it, and they are really working hard," Ms. Smith said.

"I like babies a lot, and I thought it would be nice to help the ones that are sick," explained Laura Brino, 11.

Ms. Smith got the idea for the project through her membership in the Annapolis Quilters Guild where she heard of the ABC Quilt project. ABC, which stands for At-Risk Babies Crib Quilts, is a nonprofit volunteer organization based in New Hampshire.

Volunteers began making quilts for AIDS babies at Boston City Hospital in 1988. Since then the organization has grown to include volunteers from across the country who have made and donated quilts to sick babies all over the world.

Parents donated fabric for the quilts, and Ms. Smith cut it into 4-inch squares, she said. The students picked out the squares and taped them to a large piece of paper to form a design.

"I taught three of them how to sew the pieces together," Ms. Smith said. "Then they taught three more students who taught three more until the whole class knew how to do it."

After making the top side of the quilt, the students sew in the batting and the trim around the edges, she said. The finished product is about 24 inches by 30 inches.

It has taken Valerie Sale, 11, about three weeks to make the top of her quilt. "This is the first time I have made a quilt and I am making some progress," she said.

Valerie has been to the hospital to see the babies. "Thinking of all the babies made me sad," she said.

Making the quilts has been a lesson in giving and sharing for the students, Ms. Smith said.

"They know they have to give these quilts away. And that is hard sometimes for kids when they have spent so much time working on them. But they have been great workers and real troopers."

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