Cider Mill School makes quilts for babies

The gymnasium at Cider Mill School was ringing with the sounds of excited fourth graders, as students presented their annual quilts at an assembly.

Now in its 24th year, the quilts are created through a combination of students and volunteers, who assist with the sewing. The students design a pattern to appear on each square of the quilts.

Each year, the quilts are delivered to babies who have had difficult beginnings. Last year, for example, the quilts went to the youngest victims of Superstorm Sandy.

Two quilts remain behind and are considered “seed quilts.” These quilts are samples from each year’s work.

This year, those seeds went to a place where the quilts have not been before: China.

Meg Likly and her family traveled to the Far East on a family vacation in April. Meg, who was adopted by the Liklys, visited the orphanage where she lived to give the seed quilts to the babies.

“Ni hao, that is ‘hello’ in Chinese,” said Meg in her presentation to her classmates as she began to narrate a slide show featuring pictures from her trip. The slides showed her family visiting the Great Wall of China and Tiananmen Square, as well as donating the quilts.

“No trip to China would be complete without seeing the giant panda,” Meg said.

“This was very special,” said Becky Hudspeth, coordinator of the project. Talking about Meg’s donation of the quilts to the orphanage, she added, “It’s never happened before.”

The student body sat respectfully as a number of fellow classmates stood up and read speeches. Poems and explanations of their portion of the project were among the offerings. Each child expressed sadness and support for their young counterparts. Their speeches were collected as part of the donation.

“This project started when my good friend Casey Fuller and I were in a quilting class,” said Ms. Hudspeth. “They told us about this national volunteer project to make a baby quilt for every child that was being born with AIDS. We planned it out as we stitched.

“It quickly grew to include babies with difficult beginnings of many different types. It’s a wonderful way to give a hug to a child that you will never ever meet.”

With the hanging of a paper quilt, tributes were paid to the students, teachers, volunteers, and any person who was involved in the project. Additionally, a quilt is made with a square to represent every quilt made over the 24 years of the project. With 34 quilts made this year, the total has ballooned to 701.

After the program, Cider Mill principal Virginia Rico spoke with pleasure of the work of the students, the staff, and the volunteers.

“They do a nice job on this,” she said. “It’s from the heart.”