Students sew up good will toward Afghans with quilts |

Students sew up good will toward Afghans with quilts

Jennifer Davoren
Aspen Times Staff Writer

A group of students at Aspen Middle School have been on “binky patrol” recently while finishing their latest class project.

The students in Johanna Ristine’s fifth-grade class have finished several dozen quilts they hope will eventually be sent to citizens of Afghanistan. Class volunteer Linda Sandels hand-stitched all 50 quilts in a style she calls a “binky” – a quilt meant for wear and tear.

“They’re meant to be cuddled,” she said. “They’re the kind of that give people comfort and warmth but don’t need special care.”

Sandels, who runs the business Custom Quilting from her Snowmass Village home, is known for her mass production of comfort blankets. She often produces quilts for needy families and usually chooses to work with a designated AMS class to send quilts to local service organizations.

Each of the quilts made for Ristine’s class is unique, stitched over the past few months during Sandels’ daily routine of dawn-to-dusk sewing. Some of the material used to make the quilts was donated by local businesses. The Snowmass Club, for example, gives worn bedsheets to Sandels for use in her projects.

After finishing a quilt, Sandels would turn it over to the students. The children used patriotic patterns they found on the Internet to create a unique, hand-painted square that marks the corner of each quilt.

“It will show them that we still care about them,” said 11-year-old Julia Anderson.

“We hope this is going to show that we’re not all bad,” added classmate Katie Fouts.

The students will bundle the quilts with 30 more from the Aspen Chapel. The 80 quilts will then be sent to a special Washington, D.C., address set up by the White House before being shipped to Afghanistan.

The fifth-grade class will become the second group of local schoolchildren to send quilts to poverty-stricken areas in Afghanistan. In late November, the students of the Aspen Community School participated in a schoolwide quilting bee to produce warm coverings for Afghan children.

And that’s 50 quilts down, one to go for Ristine’s students. They are planning to finish one more quilt, but this one will be for the school. Sandels will help the class create a quilted American flag, nine feet high and 12 feet wide, to hang in the AMS atrium. Sandels has already stitched the blue field and white stars and will soon add squares the children painted to create 13 stripes.

Ristine said the project is not only a way to display her students’ patriotism, but also acts as a way to bring fine arts instruction to AMS kids.

“I love sewing and I love quilting, and we need to integrate art into the regular classroom,” she said.

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