KAYSVILLE -- Tears filled Bernice Sauni's eyes as she talked about trying to call family members in Samoa after the September tsunami that killed 119 people and destroyed villages.
"We were calling and praying that everyone was all right," said the 18-year-old North Salt Lake woman, who was born in American Samoa and was brought to Utah as an infant.
She and her friend, Tilemai Sellesin, 16, a Woods Cross High School student, came to Fairfield Junior High School on Friday to collect 70 quilts tied by 30 students of Sydnee Seager. The two performed a dance called "Savali Mai," which means "Come to me," for the students before they accepted the quilts. They are among a group of Utah Samoans who are gathering items to send to those in west Samoa.
"These blankets will help so many families and kids who don't have anything," Tilemai said.
The students then wished them "Maunia Le Kilisimasi," which is Samoan for "Merry Christmas."
For the past two weeks, once the students completed their assignments, they measured, cut, pinned and tied quilts. Red, black, green, blue, yellow and brown fabrics mixed with florals, prints, checks and solid fabrics.
"This gave us a chance to step up and help others," said Hannah Judd, a ninth-grader. "This forced us to work hard, so we could have the opportunity to help others. This gave us an inspiration to work."
Kyle Percy, a ninth-grader, was one of several students working on the last quilt, a pink and burgundy print.
"I like sewing," Kyle said. "I've made quilts before."
He said the project helped him focus more on getting his assignments done so he could help tie the quilts.
Kathrine Maroney, also a ninth-grader, said she tied quilts every chance she got. Seager said Kathrine possibly worked on about half of the quilts.
"It was the first time I've ever done anything like this," Kathrine said. "I liked hanging out with my friends mostly."
Every year, Seager's students make quilts from materials the students gather from home or from donations. Those quilts are then given to organizations to help others, often overseas, such as those in Iraq, Afghanistan or Samoa.