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100-year-old Clearwater sewing star makes hundreds of 'tummy time' quilts for Tampa Bay area babies

“I’ve asked God for 5 more years”
Posted: 3:13 AM, Sep 12, 2019
Updated: 2019-09-12 05:25:01-04
Martha Heft quilt

CLEARWATER, Fla. — Martha Heft wants to make a deal — with the Almighty.

“I’ve asked God for 5 more years,” Heft says.

That would make her 105 years old.

More importantly, the time would give the Clearwater woman five more years to make more “tummy time” quilts for Tampa Bay area babies and families in need.

“I’ve made over 900 quilts, almost 1,000,” says Heft.

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The centenarian has sewed since she was a 5-year-old farm girl in Ohio.

For the past decade, she volunteered to make quilts for the Healthy Start Coalition of Pinellas.

That nonprofit offers cost-free guidance to new families, making sure moms and babies stay healthy and safe, especially when it comes to infant sleep safety.

Martha, who often sews with her daughter Jean, says making quilts for the families and the babies keeps her alive.

“I’m just a woman who wants to work and do good things for people,” said Heft.

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Healthy Start’s Michelle Schaefer recently visited Martha at the Brookdale Senior Living Community in Clearwater.

She brought Martha some gifts: thank-you notes from grateful moms.

Martha read one for the letters out loud.

“Dear Martha, thank you for the beautiful quilt. May God continue to bless you, your eyes and your hands, as you make this labor of love for my baby.”