WEST POINT -- One stitch at a time, fifth-graders at West Point Elementary are learning what it means to serve.
On Friday morning, as part of their study of the Colonial era, 123 students tied knots in quilts that will be donated to the Festival of Trees.
"It's a good service project for the kids, plus it ties in to our study of Colonial America," said Dave Halling, fifth-grade teacher.
The Festival of Trees, which benefits Primary Children's Medical Center in Salt Lake City, hits close to home for several students making the quilts.
"My friend Riley (Poore) had a tumor in the back of his head, and he is one of my best friends," said Blake Perkins, 11.
"I've seen my friend go through that, and (Primary Children's) helped him so well."
Gayle Perkins, Blake's mother, has helped with the quilts as each of her three children passed through fifth grade.
She said making the quilts means more to Blake because of his friendship with Riley.
"(Blake) went down to visit Riley (at Primary Children's) and has seen that they do a lot of good things for kids."
Riley, who is back in school and also helping to make the quilts, said he was a patient at Primary's when he was 10.
Riley, now 11, has a blanket, given to him at Primary's, that has his doctors' and nurses' names on it.
He said he considers his blanket "special" and is proud to be giving back to the hospital that helped him.
In addition to tying knots, students were also asked to donate $1 to help cover the cost of the materials needed to make the quilts.
Teachers suggested students do chores around the house to earn the $1.
Tamra Owens, a fifth-grade teacher, said the donation is not required, so the teachers many times end up eating the cost of the quilts.
However, it's all worth it because "it's a good experience for the kids," she said.
Parent volunteers taught students how to thread needles and tie square knots to make the lap-sized quilts.
Owens said several parents volunteer their time to bind the quilts before students work on them. The quilts are complete once the students finish tying the knots.
"It gives them a hands-on experience to serve those outside themselves. It's nice to have so many of them, the whole fifth grade, involved," said Rachel Alberts, assistant principal.
Alberts said the students look forward to the project every year, as they have seen previous fifth-graders participate.
Before they are donated to the festival, the quilts are displayed at the school for the entire student body to see, Alberts said.
"It's one of those traditions that parents and students look forward to."