Trotwood couple makes quilts for ill kids

Anna and George Suto have donated them for years.

They start out small, but they grow into loving gifts of warm comfort for sick children. Forty-nine, 5-inch fabric squares are cut, sewn and made into soft quilts for the little patients at Dayton Children’s Hospital.

Anna and George Suto of Trotwood have created and delivered thousands of them over the past decade.

“We have different groups that will donate at various times, but to get that level of commitment for a number of years, that’s really wonderful,” said Karen Mueller, child life manager at DCH for the past 28 years. “The families are so appreciative because they’re not expecting it. The quilts are very comforting for the children and their families, and are something they can keep.”

The project started 10 years ago when Anna was sitting outside on a summer’s day with her neighbor, Cathy Kamaruci. They both liked to sew, so they decided to volunteer their time and talent for a charitable endeavor. That first year they made between 1,500 and 2,000 quilts. Kamaruci died a few years later, and the Sutos continued on with the project.

“George sets up the ironing board out here in the living room, and he uses different cutters to cut the material into squares for me,” said Anna Suto, 85.

“Up to last year, he was helping me all the time, but he fell about three years ago while putting up a flag in the front yard and is taking physical therapy now.”

It is quite remarkable what this retired couple has done. Recently Anna has become homebound with asthma and emphysema, but she still managed to create 52 quilts during the month of July. She actually uses a 1937 Singer treadle sewing machine.

She buys muslin and batting at sales or with coupons, and most of the material is donated from her cousin in Pennsylvania.

“Right now, I hit the jackpot. St. Helens had a flea market, and my daughter Brenda saved some beautiful leftover material for me,” said Anna Suto, who retired from Elder-Beerman’s in 1989. “It takes me about three hours to finish one quilt.”

When she has finished several dozen, she used to drop them off at the front desk or the prenatal ICU. More recently, her daughter Carolyn, a medical technologist at DCH, will sometimes deliver them for her.

“We’ll also take some to the inpatient unit, and we might use them in the emergency room also. If the child is old enough, we let them pick out the one they want,” said Mueller. “The quilts are always received with a smile, and a ‘Oh, how nice!’ ”

The Sutos have been members of Precious Blood Parish for the past 60 years. That church is sending 33 quilts, along with crocheted caps that the couple has made, to a Navajo Indian reservation in New Mexico.

“When you sit at home, you get tired of watching television,” said Anna Suto.

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