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Quilts, by kids & for kids, provide comfort during disasters

MIDWEST CITY, Okla. (BP)–An Oklahoma group of Campers on Mission (COM) recently mailed 60 children’s quilts to five disaster relief areas in the Sooner State. Fran deCordova, a COM consultant, hopes it’s only the first of dozens to be given out throughout the entire Southern Baptist Convention.

“Kids Comfy Quilts” is a project in which campers –- using individual children’s crayon drawings on muslin cloth –- patch together child-size quilts to be distributed by Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma and North American Mission Board disaster relief volunteers throughout the country.

Since Southern Baptist relief teams are often the first responders to many disasters where they provide mass meal preparation, child care, chain saw and mud-out services, and other disaster-related functions, they are already on the scene to distribute the quilts to children impacted by hurricanes, tornadoes, fires and other calamities.

The quilts are by kids, for kids, said deCordova, who heads the project.

“Many children know a disaster has occurred, but they don’t know what they can do to help someone, and this worries them,” deCordova said. “Also, many other children are left without their toys and possessions in disasters and need a reminder that someone cares about them.”

By drawing a picture to express their feelings on an 8.5-inch square of muslin, children have an opportunity actively to show their concern and caring for those who have been affected by a disaster.

Utilizing public schools, carnivals, Sunday School classes, family reunions and Baptist camp craft classes, children are asked to draw something “that makes them happy,” says Ken deCordova, Fran’s husband.

“The pictures should show warmth, happiness and support so adults can talk with the affected children about how to express these ideas, sometimes using holiday themes,” Fran deCordova said. Most of the squares drawn by children have a religious theme, containing a cross or a favorite Bible verse.

“Some get pretty scriptural,” deCordova said. “A lot of kids draw something related to ‘Jesus loves you.’ My favorite was one where the child wrote, ‘It’ll get better.’”

The pictures the children draw are signed, collected and preserved by ironing wax paper over them. Then they are stitched together by Campers on Mission volunteers to make the quilts. Each quilt requires about 20 blocks and has a central block telling who made the squares and the city of origin. Each quilt is presented in its own matching bag.

“We want chaplains, chainsaw crews, counselors or any of our early Baptist disaster responders to hand out the quilts,” Ken deCordova said. “It’s a real win-win-win, because the kids like to do the drawings, the ladies like to make them and the disaster relief folks really like to give them out. Of course, the receiving kids love them.”

If an organization or class makes enough squares for a quilt, a photo is snapped and sent to the group to show the completed quilt, Fran deCordova said.

She said her quilting circle is gearing up for hurricane season, knowing that the first 60 quilts will go fast.

“Everyone wants to be a part of the project because of what it is,” she said. “But we don’t want to keep this to ourselves here in Oklahoma. We need it to be passed along. If Baptist churches in other states have existing quilting groups, this could become their top project. I’ll be happy to get them started.”

Depending on the skill of the seamstress, she said, one quilt can be sewn together in eight hours. “We had six ladies using sewing machines who turned out 34 or 35 quilts in a four-day period.”

Those wishing to participate in the project can either volunteer to help with the construction of the quilts or can donate $15 toward quilt supplies. Supplies needed are batting, cotton juvenile print fabric, cotton or flannel yardage to back the quilts and unbleached muslin to make the drawing squares.

For more information, call Mrs. deCordova at 405-737-7770, or e-mail [email protected] .

Campers on Mission is a national fellowship of Christian campers who share their faith while they camp. Sponsored by NAMB’S Adult Volunteer Mobilization unit, membership is open to Christian campers of all denominations. Membership is free. For more information, visit http://www.namb.net and search for “Campers on Mission”.
Mickey Noah contributed to this story.

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  • Dana Williamson, Baptist Messenger