We can’t get enough when it comes to Quilts of Valor® and for good reason. The mission of the Quilts of Valor® Foundation is to cover service members and veterans touched by war with comforting and healing quilts.
The Piecemakers sewing group of St. Andrew United Methodist Church in Highlands Ranch, Colorado creates and presents many quilts on behalf of this amazing foundation. We asked members Cynthia Boos and Peggy Herring to share their story.
Can you tell us a little about Piecemakers?
Our church, St. Andrew United Methodist, was founded in the 1960s, and our sewing group, Piecemakers, was started soon after. In the beginning, our group only madebaptismal quilts for the babies and young children who were baptized within the church. Now that we have over 50 members, we have expanded our projects to include Quilts of Valor®, as well as: quilts for shelter residents, baby quilts for new mothers living in shelters, mini art quilts for auction to benefit Alzheimer’s research, quilts awarded to new residents of Habitat for Humanity—specifically homes funded/built by our church, shoulder quilts for people without homes (which were handed out at Denver’s Christmas in the Park events), quilts auctioned to benefit our youth mission projects, and quilt shows within the halls of st. Andrew.
How did the Piecemakers get started with Quilts of Valor®?
In 2016, several south metro Denver multidenominational church quilting groups began to meet quarterly at each other’s locations to work on projects together. We ventured to Heritage United Methodist Church, where their project was making Quilts of Valor®, and our group spent the day putting together a scrappy QOV quilt top. We left the quilt top with them and thought they would have it quilted and present it—as with the other quilts—to one of their recipients. However, they were generous enough to gift the completed quilt back to St. Andrew and thus began our
Quilts of Valor® journey.
Suddenly, we had a completed QOV and not a clue what to do with it. Our church membership is large, and when you have just one quilt, how do you decide who should receive it? Piecemakers is a group that exists within a larger framework of women in our church called United Women of Faith. Someone suggested giving this first QOV to a woman in another United Women of Faith circle who had served as a nurse during World War II. We thought it would be appropriate that our first QOV go to a woman! We could not have chosen a better Quilts of Valor® ambassador for our church. This woman truly loved that she had been presented a QOV and endlessly talked to others about her experience!
This began our journey of presenting Quilts of Valor® to St. Andrew veterans. We decided to gift our quilts to WWII veterans first, then to our Korean War veterans. We are currently presenting quilts to the generation of veterans of the Viet Nam War. This group of vets is particularly special to many of us; it is the war of our generation or the generation of our fathers and mothers. These vets never received proper thank-you’s for serving their country, and we all feel especially moved to recognize them. At a recent presentation, I asked the recipient to think of their quilt as their personal tickertape parade each time they looked at it.
Can you share any special stories about your experience with Quilts of Valor®?
We try to make each Quilts of Valor® presentation a special event and usually award 10–20 quilts at a luncheon at the church. Veterans are asked to share something about their service, and we publish their responses in a booklet shared at the ceremony. Each veteran is encouraged to invite friends and family to join them at the luncheon. This has become one of our church’s favorite events.
Sometimes after we notify a veteran that they are scheduled to receive a quilt, they have suffered health issues that make it difficult to attend the ceremony. In that case, we will make a personal visit to the veteran’s hospital, nursing home, or home to make the presentation. The most poignant of these presentations was one in which the vet was at home with his family when we made the presentation. The veteran walked into the living room for the presentation of the quilt, visited with us, and shared stories of his service. He and his family expressed how very much the quilt was appreciated. We left to go back home and learned later that he had passed away just hours after receiving the quilt he had been waiting for.
How many quilts has your group awarded to military members and veterans?
In May of 2022, we will make another Quilts of Valor® presentation at St. Andrew—to award our 100th quilt!
Do you have any tips for others interested in starting a Quilts of Valor® group?
The Quilts of Valor® Foundation, www.qovf.org, is the official resource for information about how to make, quilt, and distribute Quilts of Valor®. For our group, the making and presentations of these quilts have been inspirational and rewarding. Once we understood the process and rules, our quilters dug in, and they have made many, many quilts.
Our advice to other groups of quilters is to try and involve as many members as possible in making the quilt. We have quilters who piece the quilt top, others who contribute by quilting the top, binding the quilt, embroidering a QOV label with the vet’s name and date of presentation, making a pillowcase to use as a quilt case, and even by helping organize the presentation event and luncheon.
When things get a little mundane, we organize a block exchange where we each make blocks using one focus fabric plus other fabrics of the participant’s choosing. We then exchange our blocks and make our own version of the QOV for a future presentation. This fun process brings the group together and helps us share and learn from one another.
It took us a while to build up to awarding 10-20 quilts at each presentation. So start small and make it special for each veteran.
Some of our members consider Quilts of Valor® a personal and meaningful way to donate their time, money, and effort—along with their love of quiltmaking. It’s a deep and heartfelt way to say thanks and give back to our nation.
*This piece was originally published in the in Fons & Porter’s Favorite Patriotic Quilts and Quilts of Valor® eBook. A variety of tips, techniques, quilt patterns, and an inspirational photo essay can also be found in this downloadable eBook