By Jennifer Gallus
HOWARD LAKE, MN - Piecing together blocks of fabric is not only creating warm quilts thanks to a Howard Lake quilt club, but warming the hearts of wounded veterans across the country.
Though the members of the Scrappy Quilters Club may never see who gets awarded their patriotic works of art, the quilters are still driven to volunteer their time and materials to the Quilts of Valor Foundation.
The club consists of about 15 to 20 ladies who meet monthly at St. John’s Lutheran Church. Women from Howard Lake, Winsted, Waverly, and Annandale comprise the group, which has had a busy year making a variety of projects the latest being quilts for the Quilts of Valor Foundation, as well as a separate project making pillowcases. Both projects benefit wounded veterans.
The mission of the Quilts of Valor Foundation is to “cover all war wounded and injured service members and veterans from the War on Terror, whether physical or psychological wounds, with wartime quilts called Quilts of Valor.”
Scrappy Quilters Club member Patty Krohn explained that club members donate their time and fabric, and sew blocks of fabric together as a first step in the quilt-making process.
The blocks are then gathered and sewn into quilt tops by a small group of ladies. Then, those quilters who have long-arm quilting machines at home donate their time and materials to create the quilts. The quilts are bound as a last step.
Once the quilt is completely finished, it is labeled and delivered to a Quilts of Valor drop site.
The Quilts of Valor web site, www.qovf.org, posts updated numbers as to how many soldiers have been killed and wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as a running number of how many Quilts of Valor have been awarded. As of Oct. 25, a whopping 17,694 quilts have been given to wounded veterans.
“It is a well organized, long standing organization that asks private groups to make quilts. They are presented to soldiers at formal ceremonies,” Krohn explained.
The following note was sent to the organization from a wounded sergeant:
“I received my quilt this past Sunday, April 20, at a ceremony held at Independence Hall in Wheeling, West Virginia. There were 12 veterans honored with quilts that day; US Senator Jay Rockefeller presented the quilts to us. It was a very beautiful and touching ceremony.
As for what my quilt means to me... Any event like the one on Sunday is a very emotionally charged one for veterans. It brings back memories of your tour of duty. I received the Purple Heart because of injuries while in Iraq. But the presentation of the quilt hit me hard.
I think that what really moved me about the quilt was the personal touch. My quilt isn’t another military medal to be placed in a box and sit on my shelf, but something that was given to me by a woman that I may never have the pleasure of meeting, just because she cared. A lot of times veterans don’t receive the recognition that we deserve. I was moved to tears on Sunday.”
Just a few weeks after the Scrappy Quilters completed its Quilts of Valor in late September, the quilters took a road trip to Willmar to take part in a sew-a-thon that also benefits wounded veterans.
This time the group was making pillowcases sponsored by the Fabric and Textile Warehouse in Willmar.
After sitting in a cold warehouse and sewing pillowcases for wounded veterans, Krohn said, “I have a new appreciation for those women in the 1920s who sat in a cold place and sewed. After three or four hours, your neck gets pretty sore.”
The group made 177 pillowcases that Oct. 11 afternoon.
The quilters are happy to volunteer their time, and often times the material, for these special projects, and admit that their efforts dwarf what our veterans have done for our country.
The quilt club formed about one year ago, and has already completed three Quilts of Valor, a mystery quilt project, a block of the month project, and the pillowcases for veterans project.
“Most important of all, we provide lots of inspiration to each other with the sharing of personal, at-home projects,” Krohn said.
“Some people sewed quilts just to survive back in the old days we do it for comfort and fun,” Krohn added.
The club meets at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Howard Lake the third Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m. The club is just beginning its second year, and is always open to new members. Contact Krohn at (320) 543-3780 for more information about joining the club.