By Jennifer Gallus
HOWARD LAKE, MN - “It gives for generations,” said Erin Judd of Howard Lake regarding quilts that are being made by a newly formed quilting group in Howard Lake dedicated to the Quilts of Valor Foundation.
“They (veterans) can give these quilts to their grandchildren, and explain why they were given them,” Judd added.
The Quilts of Valor Foundation is a national non-profit organization fed by the efforts of quilt clubs who volunteer time, materials, and talents to make thousands upon thousands of quilts to give to physically or psychologically wounded soldiers during formal honor ceremonies.
Judd initiated the new quilting club after being approached by a representative from the VA Hospital at an expo where Judd was showcasing her business Quilted Illusions.
Quilted Illusions makes weighted quilts for children and adults with sensory disorders such as autism, ADHD, ADD, and PDD-NOS.
“The woman (at the expo) asked me if I would be willing to use my talents to help wounded soldiers,” Judd said. “She asked me to look into joining the efforts of Quilts of Valor I couldn’t really say no to that.”
After Judd’s conversation with the woman and researching the foundation, she set her sights on building a quilting club dedicated to the cause.
Judd already belongs to a quilt club through her church, but this new one is separate from that group, and the new club is open to recruiting even more members.
The club has met twice, and meets the fourth Friday of each month at the Howard Lake Christian Church in the evening.
The next meeting will be Friday, April 24 from 7 to 9 p.m. Anyone interested is welcome to come.
At a recent meeting, club members were joking as Judd started laughing and saying that she almost sewed her sleeve to a quilt block.
“There’s nothing like giving of yourself,” laughed club member Angie Wagner.
“You get the quilt and the quilter,” Judd laughed.
Current club members include Judd, Wagner, Monica Nowak, Jessica Artibee, Shelly Bushnell, Vicky Entinger, and Tracy Drake.
Nowak joined the club because her husband, Anthony, is currently deployed in Iraq. He’s been gone since July and is expected to be done in October, but won’t be stateside until December.
“I’m hoping he will be back in time for my college graduation Dec. 21,” Nowak said.
Nowak and Judd are good friends, and enjoy this block of time they can spend together.
Artibee heard about the new club, and decided to join because she has many relatives who are either veterans or currently serving in the war.
“It’s one way to show appreciation for their efforts,” Artibee said. “Quilting is one talent I have that I can contribute to a great cause.”
Artibee’s mother is even making a quilt top for the group.
In fact, quilters who would like to donate to the cause don’t even have to come to meetings. Judd has plans to assemble quilt kits that will contain the materials necessary to make a quilt at home.
“Then they can just drop it off with me when they’re done,” Judd said.
Judd owns a long-arm quilting machine and can finish off quilts at her home.
Wagner joined the group as a way to give back to the veterans.
“For a long time, I thought about what I could do. I can do this,” Wagner said.
In addition to traditional quilts, the club recently started making “signature” quilts.
Signature quilts feature white blocks of material that are signed by community members.
The club asks for a $1 donation from anyone who would like to sign a block.
Many people not only sign the blocks, but also include a thank-you or a note about how they appreciate those serving in the military.
Signature blocks are available at the Howard Lake Christian Church for those who would like to participate.
Judd is planning to have a booth at the Wright County Fair this year, as well as appear at several other art and craft shows like the Canterbury Park Spring Art and Craft Affair that took place last weekend.
The newly formed club has five quilts in progress and has bound five quilts that were given to them to finish off by the Quilts of Valor Foundation.
In addition to making quilts, the group created a DVD to send along with each quilt that shows the soldiers who made the quilts, along with footage of soldiers across the nation who’ve already received quilts from the national foundation.
The DVD also thanks the soldiers for their work and dedication, and wishes them well.
“It has really touching music too. You need a Kleenex when you watch it,” Judd explained.
The group belongs to the Upper Midwest Quilts of Valor branch, which made 1,254 quilts in 2008.
Nationwide, as of January, the program has distributed 20,162 quilts since the start of the program in 2003.
The Howard Lake group welcomes support of any kind. The members are always looking for fabric, which needs to be 100 percent cotton; they could use monetary donations; more club members; or people who would like to help offset shipping costs.
More information can be found on Judd’s Quilted Illusions business web site at www.quiltedillusions.net, or call Judd at (320) 543-3846.
Even more information about the Quilts of Valor Foundation can be found at www.qovf.org (national site) or www.qovf-um.org (upper midwest site).