RACINE – A group of six area children were not about to be left out of a donation of quilts to The Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.
Sebastian Sheppard, Ellie Cummings, Brendan Sheppard, Sam Cummings, Rose Cummings, and Jonathan Sheppard — ranging in age from 6 to 13 —spent the past four months creating large, colorful quilts at Sew and Save in Racine to join a donation of 100 quilts from the Lutheran Church of the Resurrection to the reservation belonging to the Oglala Lakota Nation.
The church sent 92 units packed in boxes in a trailer headed on a mission trip to the reservation in South Dakota over Fourth of July weekend. All 92 were made by adults as part of multiple quilt working groups at the church.
Sebastian, Brendan, and Jonathan are all from Milwaukee; Ellie, Sam and Rose are from Racine. All are grandchildren of Samiko Cummings of Mount Pleasant. None of the children belong to the church, but they drew inspiration from the mission trip for their quilt work.
“They did it all – every stitch,” Carol Woosley of Kenosha said, who donated her time to teach the children how to quilt.
The Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, which encompasses 3,469 square miles of south central South Dakota, is the poorest county in the United States, and second poorest region to Haiti in the Western Hemisphere.
“The youth at Resurrection had gone there for several years in the summer and this year the adults wanted to go,” Woosley said. “When they went, they told them they’d take any quilts we made.”
After school and on the weekends, Woosley helped the six craft the quilts in the back area of Sew and Save, 3701 Durand Ave. Woosley, who’s been a customer of Sew and Save, approached the store at first to see if they had equipment necessary for quilting.
“She was coming in to try and find an old machine that she could get attachments to that you need to quilt,” Sew and Save owner Jim Deibler said. “What I did is offer that she could be here and use all of our equipment, rather than having to buy equipment, to do what they wanted to do.”
After school got out it became easier to work on the quilts in Racine. Woosley said that Sebastian, who’s 6, spent an entire day from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Jonathan’s quilt featured as many as 77 different pieces; he would even skip dinner to trim down the triangles.
Through Woosley, the children were able to learn the many intricate names of stitches they were working with.
“We’ve had some kids get in quilting, but the neat aspect of this is that they’re donating all these quilts they’ve made,” Deibler said. “They’ve been such a joy to have here because they’re learning, they attentive, and they’re polite.”
The children showed off their quilts to the owners at Sew and Save, also presenting them at First Fridays show and tell.
The children’s quilts were mailed to the reservation July 19.