For the past 15 years, mothers of Amish children in the Cumberland Valley district of Pennsylvania have made a quilt to auction for their schools.

Called the state bird quilt, it has a handmade cover with a different design each year, but it always includes all 50 states, said Nancy Boltz, a volunteer at the Pennsylvania Dutch Farmers Market. The quilt is on display there through May 1.

"Each patch has an outline of the state, a star where the capital is, the state bird, the state flower and the number that the state joined the union," Mrs. Boltz said. "It gives you a real sense of history."

This year's queen-sized quilt has a white background with red stripes, bordered by 50 blue stars. At the top is an outline of the United States, with a dot for each state capital and an eagle in flight in the center of the map.

"The feathers on the eagle are just incredible," Mrs. Boltz said.

The 50 octagonal state patches are in the middle of the quilt. The original 13 states are designated by "1st of the 13" and so on.

"We have about 50 women who helped," said Barbara Esh, one of the mothers involved with the project. "All the materials are donated. The patches were started last summer, then it was put together and quilted in one day.

"There were ladies there all day quilting. It's all hand-embroidered, and the stars are appliqued."

The quilt took the group about 800 hours to complete, she said. The group makes the quilt at a member's home where the women meet monthly.

Every spring, a quilt and craft show is held in the Cumberland Valley to benefit three Amish schools in the area. The Amish have their own parochial schools for first through eighth grades, Mrs. Esh said. "The auction is a big attraction," she said. "All the profits go to the schools, to the general fund to help pay teachers or buy whatever is needed."

This year's sale is May 13, when the state bird quilt will be auctioned off at the Jacob Flaub farm. Until then, silent bids are being taken on the quilt. It then will go to live bidding. The %J highest bidder, live or silent, gets the quilt.

Mrs. Esh said the quilts have brought in from $850 to $1,300, but Mrs. Boltz said this quilt is worth much more. "The high bid right now is $1,200, and that's a steal," Mrs. Boltz said. "It's worth way over $2,000 based on quilts with similar work."

Bids will be accepted through May 12 at the market's information booth. The quilt is on display in the small dining area near the front center of the market.

& Information: 876-8100.

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