Helping those in need in Haiti

LEOMINSTER — Rita Trainque has been sewing baby blankets, dresses, teddy bears and drawstring purses for mothers, infants and children in Haiti for the last year and a half and was inspired to utilize her sewing skills for a good cause after talking to someone who had traveled to Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.

“It just touched my heart,” Trainque, 85, said. “We have so much in America and they have so little, there is a big need there.”

Trainque, who has lived in the same house in Leominster for 35 years and has two daughters, has sewn 2,800 baby blankets to date. She donates her creations to nonprofit Haitian Outreach in Fitchburg, which in turn mails them to Haiti to distribute to those in need.

Pauline Aliskevicz, who is the director of Haitian Outreach along with her husband Deacon John, said Trainque “has made a great impact” on the organization and their efforts, especially in the wake of the Haitian Apostolate in Worcester closing.

“Rita has been a godsend,” Aliskevicz said. “She is quite the lady.”

Trainque said it takes her around seven minutes from start to finish to create one blanket, from cutting the fabric to sewing the edges and trimming the loose threads.

“They are straight stitches, nothing fancy,” she said. “I love to sew so I thought I could help.”

Haitian Outreach was started in 1998. The organization, along with its sponsors, help to care for hundreds of children in Haiti as well as some university students.

“We have sponsors from all over the United States, from Cali to Martha’s Vineyard and up into Canada,” Aliskevicz said. “We help clinics in Haiti meant for women who are pregnant. Some of Rita’s blankets go there, some go to Haitian sisters who distribute them to the women who are poor.”

Haitian Outreach mails Trainque’s blankets and such in bins filled to the brim with donations that are distributed in the country.

“I like to think they are going to make somebody warm or happy, or both,” Trainque said of her baby blankets. “I am filling a need in our world.”

She has also sewn hundreds of simple dresses made from pillowcases, cutting them in a way that makes armholes, and the open end of the pillowcase is the bottom of the dress.

Trainque uses remnants from the blankets to make teddy bears and drawstring purses.

“I save all of the material scraps, I do not waste anything,” she said.

Trainque has gotten a lot of her material from a shop in Charlton, saying she has made “many trips” there. She has also received a lot of donated material.

Trainque said she sews several days a week, and that she enjoys making the items for Haitian people.

“If babies come out of the womb with a warm blanket, that is good.”

For more information visit haitianoutreach.net.

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