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Deseret Morning News, Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Quilt to showcase teen's labor of love

LDS Humanitarian Center to assemble project with patches

By Ben Caballero
Deseret Morning News
photos: August Miller Deseret Morning News

Andy Noble, 17, of Roseville, Mich., hopest he finished quilt can be used to help others.Sirens blared as police motorcycles and fire engines escorted seven containers full of fire, police and sheriff department patches from all over the country to the LDS Humanitarian Center.

The patches made the trek from Andy Noble's home in Roseville, Mich., where he has collected patches of fire, police, and sheriffs departments from all over the world. The collection has grown to nearly 15,000 patches, with 1,300 patches alone from his home state of Michigan.

The Humanitarian Center operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will assemble the patches from departments in 50 states into a quilt that will be an estimated 400 to 600 feet long when completed.

"It was a way for all of Andy's heroes to get back to him," said Larry Hendricks, a firefighter in Oakland, Calif., and board director of the Oakland Firefighters Random Acts non profit charitable organization. Hendricks had the idea of using the patches to make a quilt. "Wouldn't it be ashame if he never saw his whole life's work?"

Salt Lake City Fire Department fire fighter Michael Harp donated his patch to make Salt Lake City part of Andy Noble's collection.

Noble, 17, has cerebral palsy and a terminal lung disease and has struggled with frequent siezures all of his life. He is oxygen-fed and cannot communicate using speech. When he was born prematurely, with fetal alcohol syndrome, doctors did not expect him to live past his first year.

crates of patches arrive at the LDS Humanitarian CenterLaurie Noble, who had become Andy Noble's foster mother when he was 2 weeks old and later adopted him, said her son's health remains very fragile, but doctors do not predict how long he will live.

Despite his challenges, Andy Noble has always had a keen sense of care for others, Laurie Noble said, he emulates law enforecment officials, firefighters and EMTs for their service. He collects the patched because of his love of these professions.

This collection has become a means by which Andy Noble can help others in his own way.

"Andy's all about helping people. That's what he wants — to help people," Laurie Noble said.

She hopes to take the quilt to different parts of the country and use it to raise money for charities supported by the police and fire departments in those areas, she said. "I am very anxious for him to see what evolves from this," Laurie Noble said, hoping it can be used to help others, which, she said, is Andy Noble's hope as well.

"It's his way to say thank you and at the same time be of assistance to someone," Laurie Noble said.

Hendricks had been looking for two years to find someone to take on the task of making a quilt for the patches.

The Oakland Fire Department hosted a weeklong visit for Andy in March 2003. During the visit, Andy got to tour the city's fire stations and see the sights, making friends with the firefighters along the way. "Everbody fell in love with him," Hendricks said.

A few of 15,000 patches from Hendicks told LDS Church Humanitarian Services about his quilt idea when he was in Salt Lake City earlier this year. The LDS Humanitarian Center accepted the challenge to assemble the quilt after hearing Andy Noble's story.

"We thought is was a worthwhile thing and we had the capacity to do it," said John Yancey, assistant manager of LDS Humanitarian Services.

The quilt will probably take several months to complete, Yancey said. The work will be a combined effort of the center's 10 to 12 regular workers and outside volunteers.

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