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Prime Time/100 Quilts for Haiti: Quilter spearheads quest for quilts for Haiti

From left, Margaret McNee, Jane Smith, Mindy Bowman and Bill Batchelder stand in the back room of Bemidji Wooden Mills holding quilts that are being collected as part of Smith's 100 Quilts for Haiti project. Pioneer Photo/Patt Rall

One day a couple of months ago, Bemidji quilter Jane Smith was watching a favorite television show and a topic grabbed her attention. "Love a Child Inc." from Tampa, Florida was asking for funds to build 100 houses in Haiti.

"I thought what will be furnished?" said Smith. "Traveling to Africa and South America with my family exposed me to poverty that is seldom shown on our media. The impression to help in some small way stays with you. I love to sew and quilts get sewn quickly at my house."

Smith clearly understood the devastation felt by the people in Haiti after the earthquake in 2010. She sent out a notice to area quilters called, "One Hundred Quilts" and asked them to donate a quilt for children in Haiti to comfort them as well as provide a covering. The quilts could be of any size, any color and any fabric.

"I asked stores to put up information about the 100 quilts for Haiti and fellow quilters called and delivered a few at a time and I spoke about the project on "Chat About."

The last of the 100 quilts was made by Margaret McNee and delivered to the Bemidji Woolen Mills in May. Why the Woolen Mills, one would ask? As it happened; the owner, Bill Batchelder, generously agreed to package and send the quilts to Haiti, paying the postage himself.

As Bill said, "Jane Smith can get me to do almost anything. We collect the quilts in the backroom of the store and box them up. This is the last batch that will be sent to Haiti."

Almost all of the quilts are twin size and were made by area quilters, some of whom members of the Headwaters Quilters, who donated their time, materials and creative energy in making each one special for an unknown child to let him or her know that someone cares. Most of the quilts are colorful with whimsical characters that children would enjoy.

It did not take long before Jane and her quilters reached the goal of 100 quilts.

"Now that I've got our first 100 quilts, my next step is to ask other communities to help, hopefully social media (such as Facebook and Twitter) will be the avenue," added Smith.