The Quilts of Valor Foundation has a big heart for United States military personnel. The group has made more than 90,000 quilts since the foundation began in 2003.
Catherine Roberts, a Blue Star mom, started the non-profit foundation from her sewing room in Seaford, Del. Her son Nathanael’s year-long deployment to Iraq provided the initial inspiration, along with her desire to see that returning warriors were welcomed home with the love and gratitude they deserved.
The organization has grown into a national grassroots community service effort with more than 1,000 Quilts of Valor groups nationwide; 108 in California alone.
The El Dorado County chapter of Quilts of Valor is called “The Freedom Quilters.” It is a newly formed, small group, which started in June.
It is five members strong.
Tricia Heckerman Lorig is the coordinator for the group and a member of the Gold Bug Quilters Guild.
Donna Bothelio works at a local hair salon and is a long-time sewer who is learning to quilt.
Terry Ogino worked for the Department of Defense for 34 years and just retired. She is a long-time quilter.
Amy Johns, another long-time quilter, is also part of the Gold Bug Quilters Guild.
Phyllis Campbell is a long-time quilter whose husband is a retired fireman.
The group meets every Monday at the Veterans Memorial Hall, 130 Placerville Drive in Placerville, from 8 a.m.-noon.
Heckerman has been quilting since she was 6 years old. Her daughter is an Army nurse stationed in Germany with her husband and children.
She says it’s a long ride for the warriors who are sent home from Germany. Some come home in wheelchairs, some on cots, some are able to stand. All come home with a Quilt of Valor.
Although the group does occasionally receive donations, many of the volunteers will spend $150 to $200 out of pocket to create their quilt. They don’t mind, it is an act of love and an honor to show appreciation to returning service members.
The Veteran’s Hall lets the group have use of the space for no charge and has recently donated $250 to the organization which allowed them to purchase supplies such as an iron, ironing board, scissors, and other items that now belong to the group so volunteers don’t have to bring a lot of their own tools.
Elizabeth Kielty of Dorcas Quilting Ministry in Cameron Park donates her longarm skills for the Quilts of Valor projects made locally. Some local quilters have donated finished quilts that they’ve put together at home.
Other ways for folks to assist the projects include helping with ironing, cutting, running errands and, of course, cash donations.
The quilters said it takes a lot of effort to do this type of volunteer work, yet many hands make the task much lighter.
This is an ongoing community outreach project and if you’d like to join, there is always room for new volunteers.
“We are so blessed that people in the community have stepped forward in helping us get started as a group and supported our efforts in making quilts for our veterans and wounded warriors. We as a group just want to say ‘thank you’ for the donations and of course to the veterans and wounded warriors for their service, dedication, sacrifice and valor to our great nation,’ Heckerman said.
For more information about the group or ways to help contact Heckerman at 530-409-5722.
More about the quilts
A Quilt of Valor is a generous lap-sized quilt made by a quilt-topper (the piecer) and then quilted by a longarmer. After it has been bound, washed, labeled and wrapped in a presentation case, it is ready to be awarded.
Quilts are awarded at many different levels: they may go to military hospitals where chaplains award them to service members; there may be presentations of quilts to entire service units returning from combat deployments; they may be awarded at VA’s or presented individually.
“My quilt isn’t another military medal to be placed in a box and to sit on my shelf,” one recipient said.
The impact of receiving a quilt has a far-reaching effect on the recipient, many of whom have been moved to tears.
“It not only keeps me warm when I’m cold but it comforts me during difficult times. When the memories of war trouble me, I curl up in the quilt and everything goes away,” an Army vet said. He was injured while serving in Iraq and received a quilt upon his return.
He said it helps him and the hundreds of wounded from the war to know that there are people in the states who care about them and what they do.
The nationwide groups are divided into six regions. All staff positions are volunteers who donate their time and talents to this worthy cause.
For more information you can visit their Website at qovf.org.