Members of the kindergarten class wear “Eide Do Anything for Caleb” shirts in support of their classmate, Caleb Eide. SUBMITTED PHOTO
Members of the kindergarten class wear “Eide Do Anything for Caleb” shirts in support of their classmate, Caleb Eide. SUBMITTED PHOTO
"Eide do anything for Caleb."

Even get messy.

"They loved painting their hands and getting messy, while realizing it would turn into something much bigger, and something very special they could give to Caleb!" said Chatfield Elementary kindergarten teacher Krissy Overland.

She explained it took a class, a local quilter and business owner to create a special quilt for classmate Caleb Eide, who's currently receiving treatment for leukemia.

Chatfield grandma Maureen Ruskell offered a hand and a month of stitches to make the quilt happen. Her grandson, Sam, a kindergartner, learned of Caleb's diagnosis in school just days after Caleb and his mother arrived at Saint Marys Hospital in Rochester to undergo treatment for leukemia.

Ruskell decided the following weekend that something should be done to let the students share with Caleb exactly how much he is loved. She dug out some quilting magazines, searched for a template that featured people holding hands, then chose fabrics in primary colors because he's a kindergartner.

She chose to border the quilt with blocks that each of Overland's students could handprint and sign - which they did quite enthusiastically with help from Sam's mom, Maggie. Then Ruskell pieced the backing of the quilt using a copy of a class picture, a letter from the class, another note from Overland and the classroom aides.

She added a personal note from herself and Chosen Valley Threads owner Lisa Vaupel, who donated the embroidery for the project.

Ruskell sent the top of the quilt and the back to be machine quilted, which was paid for through donations given by the class. Once she had finished the edges, she brought it back to the class on March 24, and asked the students to draw faces on the quilted people.

Finally, the quilt was presented to Caleb, who was "pretty quiet" but showed a smile of appreciation.

Ruskell noted that she included a block for Caleb to handprint and sign for himself so that one day, he might compare his hand to its size when he was in kindergarten.

Overland said her kindergartners were so very pleased to have the opportunity to make the personalized quilt for Caleb because he's been gone since mid-February. She said her students have been missing him and he's been missing them.

Caleb has just recently begun to come to school for half days, staying the entire day if he's feeling well and doesn't have any doctor appointments.

They were especially pleased to be able to actually give him their creation. Overland stated, "Maureen brought the finished quilt in on Monday, March 24. Caleb had just arrived home from the hospital the previous weekend and was able to come in for a few minutes at the end of the day to take his picture with the class and the quilt."

Ruskell pointed out the quilt is not meant to be hung on a wall or folded neatly tucked away in a drawer, even though it might barely survive his childhood as a memento of being wrapped in love.

"We want him to use the quilt, get it dirty, wash it, use it again, get it dirty, wash it again," she added.

Overland commended Ruskell's thoughtfulness and talent. "Maureen is so talented and did a fabulous job with the quilt! She put so much time, thought, and energy into it, and we couldn't be happier with the way it turned out."

Not only did the students wrap Caleb in a handmade hug, but they also donned orange and stood out for him, as Overland related that support for Caleb and his mom, Crystal, is ongoing as the 6-year-old recovers.

"We all put on our orange 'Eide Do Anything for Caleb' t-shirts and took our picture in front of the school," Overland said as just another example of how much the students missed their classmate and support him through his treatments.