By Victoria Montiel
Cougar News Blog
In June of 1987, a small group of strangers gathered in a San Francisco storefront to document the lives they feared history would forget. Their goal was to create a memorial for those who had died of AIDS, and to help people understand the devastating impact of the disease.
This meeting was the beginning of the first AIDS quilt and since then different groups have been creating quilts to keep HIV and AIDS in the public eye.
This year, the GSA (Gay Straight Alliance) club at Apache Junction High School tried to do the same thing and Cactus Canyon paraprofessional Sylvia Moreland volunteered to sew the quilt pieces together.
“I am a volunteer with the AJHS GSA club and I love to sew, so I chose to volunteer,” said Moreland.
The GSA club spent two days during the lunches having students write and decorate quilt strips. There are names of people who died of AIDS with their birth and death year on it, some strips have words of encouragement, while others were decorated to show support and encouragement to those with HIV or AIDS. The materials and time for the quilt were donated at no cost.
The strips were completed the first week of November, and Moreland completed the sewing in about two weeks. The quilt was displayed at AJHS on Nov. 30 in honor of World AIDS Awareness Day, which is Dec. 1.
“It took eight to 10 hours of actual sewing time, and the quilt measured 15 feet by 5 feet and contained over 300 message strips,” said Moreland.
GSA’s mission statement is to bring students together to create a safe haven and environment of acceptance. They hold weekly meetings and have frequent guest speakers. The club is trying to raise awareness that people are still contracting and dying from HIV and AIDS.
GSA has also celebrated Halloween with the children at a family homeless shelter in Phoenix. They did crafts and passed out candy, then went to Tucson and provided pumpkin pies to a Thanksgiving dinner for homeless teens. They also marched in the Lost Dutchman Day parade and in the Phoenix Pride parade last year.
The members of GSA are now spending their club time putting together stocking gifts for 50 children and 150 women at a Phoenix homeless shelter. They plan on sharing the stockings and making Christmas crafts with these children next week.
GSA is also raising funds to pay to march in the Lost Dutchman Day parade in February and to help out at the homeless shelter.