Students Stitch Together Quilts And Care For Foster Keiki
Mililani Middle School is doing its part to help children who are ill or in foster care by teaming up with Family Programs Hawaii and Project Linus Oahu.
After 600 of the school’s eighth-graders expressed concern about the lack of foster care here, they held two benefit walk-a-thons to help build a new foster-care facility in Waianae. And by raising $15,000 for FPH, they were able to purchase a room, costing $10,000, for children there as each room in the facility is up for sale to benefit keiki in need.
It was during their October 2008 walk-a-thon that they learned of another neat idea. “As we were walking around, we were able to meet two women who are involved with Project Linus Oahu, which collects homemade blankets for the children,” said Carolyn Ozaki, one of many teachers involved in the project. “Project Linus inspired us to help provide blankets for the children who will be placed in Waianae’s Hoomalu O Na Kamalii facility.”
The Mililani students first were shown how to sew and crochet, and each of them crocheted at least one square for their homemade quilt. Some went to greater lengths and learned to chain and double crochet. While apprehensive at first, Ozaki said they took a liking to it.
“It has been a struggle to complete,” she admitted. “However, when they turn in their final pieces, you can see how proud they are to not only finish it, but know that it will help others in need. They know that even though their piece is a small section of the blanket, they have made a difference in someone else’s life.”
Teacher Clavelina Caalim added, “ They got excited about being able to help out people in their own community. They also loved the idea that making them something that they could use made them feel like they really helped the foster children.”
Although it is a long process, Ozaki said the students presented two completed blankets to FPH at their eighth-grade aloha ceremony, and they hope to contin- ue the project during this school year.
“Since our room is a nursery, we’re attempting to make baby blankets, which we hope will be used in at least one of the three cribs,” Ozaki explained. “Once we have enough squares, we will attempt to make more blankets for the older children.”
This may become an annual project for the eighth-grade service learning classes. After all, there are 10 bedrooms in the foster facility, and both students and teachers hope to bless each one with a blanket created out of care and compassion.
“ The most rewarding aspect of this project is to see how excited the students are to learn how to crochet, and that they were so excited to be able to create something that they could give to the foster children,” Caalim said.“It’s a great feeling to see how much they care.”
“It’s also rewarding to know that these kids have big hearts and want to help others,” added Ozaki.
In October, Caalim said, 600 MMS students will stage a walk-a-thon to benefit a nonprofit that works with the homeless population.
Jenny Wood, Clav Caalim, Joann Wood and Vince Abramo (representing Ho‘omalu O Na Kamali‘i foster home) stand with the proud Mililani Middle School quilters. Photo from Clav Caalim.