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As mothers, the Quilts for Kids program has a special appeal to nine local women affiliated with Fremont National Bank.

Eight FNB employees and the wife of another are each making crib-size quilts for the national organization that transforms discontinued and unwanted fabrics into quilts to comfort children in need. Children with cancer, AIDS and other life-threatening illnesses or who have been abused receive the quilts.

The women at FNB got involved when Lynn Juhl told her coworkers she was making a quilt for the program.

"Lynn came across a Downy advertisement for it, so she ordered a kit for herself personally," Marlene Mullally explained. "She brought it over and showed us, so the rest of us were interested and went ahead and did it as a group."

Others involved in the effort are Carolyn Weander, Kathy Belak, Sarah Brandt, Chris Kiersch, Kim Mruz, Pam Nielsen and Kathy Hartmann. Karen Aerni and Kathy Burford helped iron the quilts one night.

Mullally said some of the nine are experienced quilters, "but it's probably the first time for some of these girls, some of us were just green."

"I'd say the reason we all did it," Brandt said, "was because we're all mothers, we all know the importance of children feeling comfortable in the hospital."

The women ordered kits online from Quilts for Kids and started working on them four weeks ago. They've gotten together once to work as a group, but otherwise each has worked solo in their homes.

"It's not big enough to cover a hospital bed, but it's just the idea of the security," Hartmann said.

"The kit comes in a plastic bag," Mullally said. "All the material is precut so you just need to sew it together, and they provide instructions on how they want it done. The only thing that's costing us is the thread and the batting for it. They furnish everything else.

"You have to do the design they give you because that's how much material you have. If you start messing around with it you won't have enough material," she said.

The organization was founded in 2000 when a Pennsylvania woman noticed industrial-sized trash bags filled with fabric destined to be thrown out. She decided the fabric could be put to use making patchwork quilts for ill and abused children.

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The Fremont women don't know where their fabric came from and they don't know where their quilts will end up. The organization's website lists Children's Hospital in Omaha as one of its many recipients.

"We don't know where they will go and we don't have any choice either, you just send them back," Mullally said. "When you're done, you send the plastic bags back and the instruction sheets because they recycle everything.

"They give you four to six weeks and I got an e-mail a couple days ago saying it's time to send the quilts back," she said.

A couple of the quilts are finished, she said, but others are still being made.

Downy, one of the companies that supports Quilts for Kids, has a website where quilters can track their quilts. Each quilt has a name tag in the corner where the quilter can print her first name and give the quilt a name. Quilts are registered on the website using the tag.

Quilts for Kids has more than 50 chapters across North America and the Caribbean, its website stated. The organization claims to have kept more than 1 million pounds of fabric out of landfills, producing tens of thousands of quilts that were distributed to hospitals and abuse centers in the United States, South Africa, Romania and Ukraine.

Some of the Fremont women have already gotten fabric for another quilt.


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