A group of Saddleback College women are using the age-old art of quilting to assist babies afflicted with AIDS.
More than 20 women enrolled in the college senior citizens program have made about 30 quilts since last spring. The coverings are distributed in Orange and Los Angeles counties through the national AIDS Babies Crib Quilts project.
"The whole baby quilt project started two years ago in New England," says Judy Macurda, a Saddleback quilting teacher. "A woman thought it would be nice if AIDS babies, who have so little, could have at least a quilt to help keep them warm."
Eileen Van Vliet, the project's regional coordinator, said the hospital workers who care for the babies seem touched by the quilts. She said about 11,000 have been made nationwide.
It takes about 40 hours and $30 worth of materials to make the simplest of quilts, the Saddleback quilters said. Most, however, take longer and cost more. Macurda said a local fabric store recently donated some surplus materials.
"It's not the time that keeps these women from doing more, but the money," Macurda said. "Most of our women live in Leisure World and are on fixed incomes."
First, the women decide on the design for the quilt, incorporating teddy bears, hearts or other colorful patterns. The squares or other shapes are then sewn together and attached to a filler and a backing.
Most of the quilters say it is gratifying to be able to use their skills to help the helpless.
"Most of us have grandchildren, so we identify with babies," Alice J. Kupec said. "It gives us a good feeling that something we made is giving comfort to a sick child."
"It's not their fault that they are ill," Eleine Scully said. "I understand that some of the babies are even buried in their quilts."
Babies contract acquired immune deficiency syndrome either in the womb through their infected mothers or from blood transfusions.
Although the women are proud of their contributions, none expressed a desire to see the babies who receive their gifts.
"It would make me sick to think that poor little baby is dying," Rowena Harrison said.