Every stitch is made with love, respect and thanks.
The Quilts of Valor Foundation’s mission is to cover service members and veterans with quilts of comfort and healing. The organization was founded in 2003 by Blue Star mother Catherine Roberts, inspired by her son Nathaniel’s tour in Iraq into forming a nationwide network of quilt top makers and machine quilters to create high-quality quilts for returning service members. With the positive response that the group received, they later expanded their mandate to include veterans. Since its inception, the organization has presented more than 242,000 quilts to recipients.
Quilts of Valor aren’t charity quilts, said Mary Harris, North Alabama coordinator, and are not intended to be tucked away or displayed on the wall – they are meant to be used. Currently the North Alabama chapter has 79 requests for quilts. Harris said they have presented quilts to veterans of all ages. If a veteran is elderly or ill, those quilts will take priority in the queue.
“They are very appreciative, you see many tears – some say, ‘no one has ever thanked me before,’” Harris said. “We have a small presentation, we tell the history of our group and then we highlight each veteran. We write up a bio of their military history, accomplishments in life. … Once we’ve read that, two of us will take the quilt and wrap and hug them. I always say, ‘Welcome home.’ Because so many served in Vietnam and had very poor treatment when they came home.”
The ceremonies can also be emotional for the quilters, who often leave energized and motivated.
“They will say, ‘I want to go home and sew. I want to make more quilts,’” Harris said.
Quilts of Valor has four local groups in Guntersville, Decatur, Athens and Muscle Shoals, with a Florence chapter in the works. Harris said she would love to see a chapter form in the Huntsville area. Members do not have to join a group, they can create a quilt on their own, following guidelines found on the foundation’s website. Harris said the members do not necessarily even need to be quilters, but can help in other ways such as ironing fabric – “everybody’s contribution helps.”
Persons interested in becoming involved with Quilts of Valor can call Harris at 616-6424. To learn more about the organization or request a quilt for a veteran or service member, visit the Quilts of Valor Foundation website at www.QOVF.org.