A new club at Waterloo Junior High School is looking to make a difference one stitch at a time.
That organization is the Sew Good Club, which began about a month ago with one goal.
“Our end project is to create a collaborative quilt that we are going to be giving to our students (in the school district) who are dealing with cancer,” club founder and sponsor Annette Rau said.
Rau, who is an art teacher at WJHS, created the club after the response she received when she introduced a unit on embroidery in one of her classes.
Students enjoyed it, and a retired teacher who visited the school said she loved the projects students had on display.
Rau saw a way to combine sewing with helping those who have cancer.
“I decided we could try to put both of those things together and do something corroboratively to show our support of those kids with cancer,” Rau said.
Next, Rau began telling students about the club and having morning announcements encouraging them to sign up.
Her efforts paid off, as 18-22 students attend the club’s weekly meetings.
“Most of them were very excited,” Rau said of the students. “I was kind of hesitant on how many people I was going to have. I likened it to I was throwing a party and I wasn’t sure if anybody was going to show up.”
Students said they wanted to join the club for various reasons.
“I wanted to learn more about it so that I could adopt the hobby,” eighth grader Nathan Dell said. “It was mainly because I also know one of the people we’re making the quilts for, personally. I thought it would be a nice thing to be involved in.”
Other students already had some expertise but wanted to expand their knowledge.
“I know machine quilting, and I kind of want to learn other ways to quilt,” sixth grader Kaitlyn Buettner said.
Club members work in groups according to their skill level, but all of them are working to make their own quilt block and sew them together to create one large quilt.
Rau has been leading that effort, along with several adult volunteers from the community.
The material for the class was paid for with funds from a grant Rau applied for from the Waterloo Foundation for Excellence in Education, a nonprofit that seeks to “complement, enrich and enhance the educational opportunities and experiences” for Waterloo students.
Progress on the quilt is going well, with club members to complete it this month.
“We’re starting to pull things together with a sewing machine,” Rau explained. “There’s going to be at least two more meetings with students, and we should see a final project by the end of those two meetings.”
Students said they have enjoyed the club so far and are excited for their projects.
“It’s going really good,” sixth grader Samantha Cawvey said. “I’m having a lot of fun here.”
“I think it’s really, really great,” seventh grader Charlee Fitch agreed. “Everybody’s making really nice pieces.”
Rau said she has been impressed with their efforts.
“I’m amazed at the fact that these kids want to give back,” she said. “It’s very heartwarming to see how much these kids care. Sometimes they don’t know how to show that, but given this opportunity, they’ve just been amazing.”
After the quilt is completed, the club does not have plans for another project.
But Rau said she hopes to do another one next year, given the interest, if the right need or cause presents itself.