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WARM GESTURE



Published: Wed, February 6, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



Poland pupils are making quilts to help comfort family members who lost loved ones.

By JOHN W. GOODWIN JR.

VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER

POLAND -- Pupils at two Poland schools are joining forces to add a little warmth and happiness to the lives of New York families who lost husbands and fathers in the World Trade Center attack.

Marsha Walkama, a teacher at Union Elementary, said pupils pick a charity or organization to help each year. This year, firefighters from the Western Reserve Joint Fire District helped the pupils pick the perfect group to comfort.

Several firefighters made a trip to New York City after the Sept. 11 terrorists attacks.

Lost loved ones: Walkama said the pupils were told about six families the local group had met who had relatives working at Fire Squad 41 in Queens when the attack on the World Trade Center in Manhattan took place.

All six families lost a loved one.

"Our school decided to adopt the family members left behind for the next few years. Our hope is that we can, through a series of projects, provide comfort, pay tribute, help financially and most importantly let the family members know that in a year from now we still care and remember," Walkama said.

"Because of the connection between our firefighters and the families, when we decided to do something we wanted to stick with those families."

What the pupils decided to do first is make six quilts, one for each family, to be delivered personally by members of Western Reserve Joint Fire District.

Each quilt is being hand crafted by pupils at Union and at Poland Middle School.

Designing square: Every Union student, with the help of their parents, was asked to come up with a design for a square to be placed on the red, white and blue quilts.

Once perfected, the design was drawn on a cloth, ironed into place and ready to be added to the quilt.

Fourth-grader Tim Dalesandro is happy with the two-finger peace sign and American flag he added to one of the quilts.

He said the peace sign represents the peace brought by the United States to other countries and he hopes the receiving family finds a little joy in the gift.

Poland Union houses pupils only through grade four. Therefore, somewhat older, more stable hands will sew the material together.

That is where Mackenzie Sullivan, Ciera Urichich and Carolyn Sweeney, home economics pupils at Poland Middle School, come into play, putting needle to thread and pulling the individual squares into uniform quilts.

Time-consuming: The girls said it takes a little more than a week to finish each quilt, but the hard work will be well worth the effort if it brings joy to the families in New York.

"We really hope this will help the families because they have lost a family member, and it's good to know that people so far away are thinking about them," said Urichich.




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