ALBANY -- The innocent question sparked an interest for the young student to make a difference in the life of an American soldier.
"What do you mean they don't have pillows?" asked the student of sewing instructor Carolyn Levy.
Levy, who teaches children to sew at the Executive Center in Albany as part of her Kids Can Sew class, said she had to explain to her students that military personnel often sleep in tents and fold a towel for a pillow.
After learning about one of her student's having a relative serving in Iraq as a pilot several months ago, Levy said the student's grandmother suggested having Levy use her sewing class to make pillows for the soldiers. To go along with the requested 14-by-14-inch pillows, the girls also created colorful cards to go along with the pillows.
"Immediately, I saw patriotism in them," Levy said of the girls ranging in age from 10-14 years old. "They wanted to do something for the troops. It almost brought tears to my eyes. It was just overwhelming."
The girls began the project Nov. 9 and finished it four days later, working an average of four hours a day. They used donated supplies from PJ's Decorative Fabrics and Susie's Pillows. They also received help from parents, who donated polyester, along with their time. Siblings of the students also joined in on the fun project.
"Parents have given time and they've given so much it's unbelievable," said Levy, who moved to Albany four years ago. "All parents have come to help and cut. Interestingly, none of the mothers can sew and I think there's so much interest in the mothers to get them to sew."
The significance of what they were doing for soldiers serving overseas wasn't lost on the sewing class students.
"It's really nice because they do so much," said Emily Pursel, a sixth-grader at St. Teresa's School. "They've volunteered to do this for us. I can't imagine sleeping each night without a pillow. I'm just proud we've done so many pillows."
The girls made almost 200 pillows and cards for the soldiers, which will be mailed out today.
"It makes me happy and I love sewing," said Kinsley Turner, a fifth-grader at Sherwood Christian Academy. "It's a way to show off our sewing skills and be able to help with the community."
Creating and reading the cards was one of Maggie Ricks' favorite parts of the project.
"I liked coloring the cards and they had a lot of heart and feelings," said Ricks, a fifth-grader at Deerfield-Windsor School. "I read all of them. They were really funny and cute because second- and fifth-graders wrote them and our siblings helped, too."
Because of the success of the sewing pillows for soldiers project, Levy said she plans on doing more charitable community events with her Kids Can Sew class.
"We have a lot lined up," Levy said.