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Bismarck woman donates quilts to students in need

Published: Apr. 12, 2021 at 2:26 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - A conversation with a stranger in the checkout line at a fabric store led a Bismarck woman to take on her biggest quilting project ever.

Martha Downs was visiting with a teacher who was buying fleece to make blankets for two of her students who didn’t have any.

When she couldn’t get that exchange out of her head, the chat sparked a big idea

Downs always has a project in the works.

“I love to crochet and bead,” said Downs.

From quilts, to bracelets, she’s got lots of creative ideas. But her biggest idea ever led her to make and give away 50 twin size quilts.

“I used up 400 yards of fabric,” she said.

It took her 18 months and about 500 hours. With each stitch, her determination to help grew even stronger.

“It’s hard for me to wrap my head around not being safe or having food or a blanket to wrap up in,” Downs stated.

Pioneer third-grader Risan Smith received one of Martha’s quilts. She chose a specific one because she likes the pigs and because it’s her favorite color.

“Pink,” said Smith.

School social worker Jenna Lahr says letting Smith pick her very own quilt is a moment she’ll never forget.

“They’re not always used to getting choices and they’re just given what they’re given and so to be able to give them that option was amazing,” said Lahr.

For Downs, it’s a way to use her talents and her fabric stash to help someone else; a stranger, someone like Smith.

During the past 18 months, Downs also made a donated 20 quilts to Designer Genes. They will give them to babies born with Down Syndrome.

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