One Bismarck woman has taken it upon herself to give back to the community in a unique way — by donating 50 handmade quilts to Bismarck Public Schools.

“I always had this dream of doing a big charity project,” said Martha Downs.

Downs, who’s been quilting for more than 16 years, has put her skills to the test as she took on the task of creating quilts for kids in need.

“I’ve made over 75 that I’ve donated for various causes. This being my largest because I just felt like the underprivileged children and homeless kids…them and our seniors are our most vulnerable populations,” said Downs.

Downs says she used more than 400 yards of fabric, taking a total of 500 hours to make the quilts.
Together, they weigh a whopping 150 pounds.

“I’d work and then I’d get overwhelmed and then I’d have to stop for a while, and then I’d work on them to a certain point. I’m just really happy that I can help somebody else,” said Downs.

The quilts will also give BPS Life-Ed students a job site, as they will be packaging and mailing the quilts.

“I think they’re a little worried because these are probably the bigger items than they’re used to packaging up and mailing. So, they will have a new challenge as to how that will work,” said Laura Mildenberger, Employment Education Teacher at BPS.

Despite their concerns, Mildenberger tells us the students are ready and happy to do their part.

“They love the giving piece of it because they truly know what they’re doing to help families,” said Mildenberger.

Tracy Famias, from Bismarck Public Schools, tells us this has been a really exciting donation.

“You hear 50 quilts and you think 50 quilts until you start stacking them. Yeah, it’s an unbelievable amount of quilts and it will go out and serve and keep 50 kids warm,” said Famias.

Downs says, for now, she plans on taking a little break but she hopes others will keep it going in her place.

“I would like to challenge– there’s lots of quilters in Bismarck. There’s two guilds, and I would like to challenge them,” said Downs.

Currently, Bismarck Public Schools are deciding which schools and students will receive the quilts.
They will start handing them out sometime next week.