One family made 10 quilts in two weeks. Another made six during one weekend. A teenager dropped off four quilts.

One by one, the quilts are piling up in Murray - colorful stacks of them, all lovingly cut, tied and sewn, ready for their journey from Utah to war-torn Bosnia.The goal is 1,000 quilts.

The idea was the brainchild of Rosemary Neider, the former stake Relief Society president of the Murray North Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Neider had talked with Carol Gray, an English woman who has been taking truckloads of supplies into Bosnia for five years, and Neider was moved by Gray's accounts of severe suffering that she had witnessed.

"Carol visited here in December," Neider recalls. "When she left I said, `Is there anything else we can do for you?' One of the things she said is `We can't get tied American quilts.' One morning I woke up early and thought, "I bet this stake could come up with 1,000 quilts."

Even after stake president Ken Riches offered his support, Neider began to have doubts about the scope of the project, but those were swept away. Riches quoted President Gordon B. Hinckley, who said "This is a season of 1,000 opportunities." So the stake president said, "Let's make it a season of 1,000 quilts.' Then I knew we had to do it," Neider said.

Word of the project spread and the Murray North Stake soon was joined by others who offered fabric, yarn, the batting that fills quilts and their labor. One man offered to build wooden quilt frames at cost.

Watching people get involved in the effort has been inspiring, Neider said.

"Sometimes making one quilt is really hard, but when you're making a whole bunch, you sit around and visit and re-bond. It has been a sweet experience to have everyone enthused," she said.

"There are 350 children who are mentally handicapped in some way. They don't have shoes or bedding. They've never seen a toy. Every one of those children will receive a quilt," Neider said.

"These children are not mentally ill from birth but from the trauma they've seen. When Carol hands them a blanket, they rock back and forth with it held to their faces. It feels like love from somebody," Neider said.

The quilting effort began in January and expectations are that more than 1,000 quilts will be ready by the end of May.

Neider is quick to credit others for the success of the quilt project and talks at length about her admiration for Gray.

"She has really put her life on the line," Neider said. "She saw a need and wanted to help."

Gray, a wife and mother of seven children, was appalled when watching British television recount the horrors of the Bosnian conflict that killed so many people and left survivors with nothing.

"If you hear of a problem in any country and it touches you, you reach for your checkbook. Somehow this didn't seem enough on this occasion," Gray said. "I very prayerfully and very thoughtfully considered the alternatives. I went to my priesthood leaders in my ward and stake and told them what we were considering, for the sisters to lose themselves in service not just in their own backyard.

"They loved the opportunity to get involved but gave me the warning that these things tend to get out of hand," Gray said, chuckling.

The project spread beyond her LDS stake and soon hospitals, companies, other churches and schools were donating food, diapers, toys, medical supplies and toiletries. Unfortunately, the charity that had agreed to ship it all into Bosnia canceled at the last minute.

Gray was stuck with a ward house so jammed it was hard to attend meetings.

That's when she decided to sell her car, buy a truck and round up others with trucks to move supplies into Bosnia personally.

"I'm doing something I know Heavenly Father has wanted me to do."

Some people admire her efforts but question her sanity.

"People think, `Are you a kamikazi housewife? Do you not love your family? Are you stupid?' I adore my family, I love my husband to bits, but over the last five years I've been on a kind of personal mission. I've been on a conveyor belt that I've had no jurisdiction over and I cannot get off."


Additional Information

Donations of sheets, toys accepted

Anyone who wants to donate used but good-quality sheets, pillow cases, shoes and soft toys to be shipped with the quilts should contact Starlite U.K. of Utah at 292-0607 or write to the foundation at P.O. Box 1028, Bountiful, UT 84011. The project is also accepting money to repair delivery trucks. The effort is not an official charity of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints but is being undertaken by some of its members.