Classmate Quilters of Iowa to show quilts bound for Tanzania Sunday

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 26, 2007

Several members of Northwood-Kensett High School Class of 1961 have a lot in common: They love to quilt and they like to help others.

In July 2005, a group of classmates gathered for brunch. Barb Forland Neils asked, &8220;How many of you are quilters? Would you like to help me with a project?&8221;

And that was the beginning of the &8220;Classmate Quilters of Iowa&8221; &8212; known to each other as the &8220;CQs.&8221; The group meets monthly for quilting, conversation, food and laughter.

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The project is to make quilts for a boarding school in Tanzania for orphans of AIDS victims. The school is named Peace House Academy and is sponsored by Peace House Foundation in Minneapolis. The original goal was to make and send 25 quilts before the school opens in the summer of 2007. The plan now is to ship quilts for the first group of students so there is a quilt on every cot for the expected 125 children who will be enrolled this year. Ultimately, the school will have room for 640 students. The students will take their quilts with them when they graduate from the academy as a &8220;forever gift.&8221;

Peace House Foundation&8217;s goal is to create hope for sustainable change through education of orphans.

The quilts are small &8212; only 48 by 72 inches &8212; to fit cots. They are made from donated cotton fabrics and have polyester batting since they will be hand washed and line dried.

They feature bright colors and patterns. Classmates from as far away as California and northern Minnesota have made and sent quilts.

&8220;Other classmates have helped with donations of fabric and cash to help pay for the batting, quilting and shipping,&8221; said Genie Foss, a CQ member.

Three long-arm quilters have helped by offering reduced-price quilting. Others have donated fabrics and other groups of quilters from Iowa and Minnesota have participated in this project, which will continue for the next several years.

The CQs made a queen-size quilt, which was auctioned off last fall to help with costs of the project. They also made tote bags and aprons featuring quilt squares with an African theme that were sold to raise funds.

Finished quilts will be on display Sunday from 2 to 5 p.m. at the Northwood, Iowa, Public Library, 906 First Ave. S. Admission is free, but donations will be received. Refreshments will be served.

Any quilters or seamstresses who would like to help with this project can contact Barb Neils at Peace House Foundation, 6581 City West Parkway, Eden Prairie, MN 55344, or call her at (952) 941-1285. The foundation&8217;s Web site is