July 28, 2009


Cincy students stitch quilts for needy children

School has been donating blankets through its Quilts 4 Kids By Kids program since 2006

QuiltBob Ellis/staff photographer
Russell Schopher, 9, gets a close-up look while sewing quilt panels together.

Contributing writer

CINCINNATUS — Third- and fourth-graders are stitching together quilts to give to less-fortunate children as part of Cincinnatus Elementary School’s Summer Academy.
Monday morning, Carlecia McUmber, 9, had already finished one quilt, made up of 36 six-inch fabric panels, and was beginning work on a second. Anna Pierce, a retired Cincinnatus Central teacher, helped her guide the squares of material into one of the two sewing machines set up in the classroom.
Pierce established the Quilts 4 Kids By Kids program in 2006, based on an idea she had while vacationing in Florida with her husband, Edwin. Using fabric donated by fellow members of the McGraw Methodist Church, the Pierces help kids — anywhere from 18 months to 18 years — stitch together quilts to give to children with serious illnesses or in foster care.
Holly Pierce, one of Anna’s former third-grade students, graduated with a degree in education from SUNY Cortland in May, and has been helping Anna with the Quilts 4 Kids By Kids program since its inception in 2006.
“A premature baby is about the size of a Cabbage Patch Kid, or a bag of flour, so that’s why we need these to be small,” Anna Pierce explained, as she helped McUmber assemble and stitch together the panels for a smaller, 20-panel quilt.
Pierce said she distributes some of the quilts through the county’s Social Services Department, while others go to neonatal and pediatrics departments in Syracuse hospitals.
Students assemble the fronts of each quilt, and Pierce takes them home to attach backing and filling. The larger quilts, she said, she fills with 100 percent cotton, and the blankets for premature infants are filled with flannel for warmth.
“It takes about a yard of material (for each infant-size quilt), and we use every scrap,” Pierce said.
They’re handed out anonymously, but the students create four “custom” panels for each quilt that have their own message or personal touch. McUmber had painted “Made with love and prayers” on one of her panels, using fabric markers supplied by the Pierces.
Each quilt also features one panel with a ladybug, which Edwin Pierce said is an Amish symbol of good fortune.
“This is a really fun project,” said Kristy Farrow, 9. “I feel excited, because I’ve never made a quilt for anyone, and I’ve never sewed anything before.”
Bradley Standish, 10, already had some quilting experience from a project his kindergarten class did. He had finished his quilt and was helping Farrow arrange squares for another student who was unable to attend that day’s session.
He said his favorite part of quilting was using the sewing machine.
“When you press the pedal, it goes fast,” he said.
Farrow agreed.
“The sewing is the most fun part,” she said. “It’s like pushing the pedal in a car.”
Pierce said she will continue the program as long as she is still able to sew.
“We make them (the students) feel good that they’ve done something special, because they have,” she said. “It’s about kids feeling good about helping other kids.”


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