Quilts of Valor awarded to seven Veterans
By LYNETTE SOWELL
On Thursday evening, seven veterans found themselves wrapped in hugs both literally and figuratively as they were each awarded a quilt from the Texas Patriotic Piecemakers.
Part of the nationwide Quilts of Valor program, the Texas Patriotic Piecemakers receives nominations from the Quilts of Valor Foundation for veterans to be awarded quilts.
“We’re very lucky to be here in the Fort Hood community, with a lot of support,” said Stacy Clary, who leads the group.
The Quilts of Valor quilters also belong to the Patriotic PIecemakers, a subgroup of the Fort Hood Spouses Club. Along with Clary, Teresa Johnson, head of the Fort Hood Thrift Shop, Kimberly Wilburn, Fort Hood Spouses Club Outreach Chair, and Deb Perrault, owner of The Sewing Basket in Salado, were present for the awards ceremony, along with Texas Patriotic Piecemakers members, the quilt recipients and their friends and family members.
Clary talked about the program and how the quilts awarded that evening came to be. She thanked Perrault for donating fabric to the Piecemakers and for allowing them to use her classroom at her shop for free.
“We do not give the quilts to you, we do not present the quilts to you; they are awarded. They are earned for your time, your sacrifice, and your service,” Clary told the seven recipients.
With every quilt awarded to a veteran, the same ritual was performed, that of unfolding the quilt to its full size so the veteran could see it, then the quilt was folded and wrapped around the recipient’s shoulders. After that, they were each given a hug.
“Every time you wrap up in that quilt we want you to feel the hug, the love and appreciation from your country for your service and your sacrifices,” Clary told each of them.
Darleen Williams lives in the Fort Hood area and was nominated by her sister in Virginia. Williams’ family didn’t tell her she’d been nominated, instead telling her that they were just stopping by the Commissary on Clear Creek Road. Instead, they made a detour to the Fort Hood Spouses Club office which shares space with Santa’s Workshop beside the Commissary.
The Quilts of Valor had its start in 2003 by Catherine Roberts, whose son had entered the military. She had a dream about a lost, sad forlorn soldier sitting on a cot, followed by the sight of that soldier wrapped in a quilt with hope in his eyes again. Roberts presented the first quilt to a Minnesota soldier in November 2003. The endeavor began to award quilts to soldiers who had been directly impacted by combat, and then grew to include any military servicemember.
“Any veteran, with any time served qualifies for a Quilt of Valor,” said Clary, who noted that the organization overall has awarded more than 168,000 quilts.
Clary said that anyone can nominate a veteran for a quilt at the Quilts of Valor Foundation website, qovf.org, and that turnaround time depends on how busy a particular quilting group is at that servicemember’s local area. Every quilt awarded is registered in the foundation’s database.
Carola Abel is an avid quilter and is a member of the Texas Patriotic Piecemakers and stitched five of the seven quilts awarded Thursday evening. Depending on the size of a quilt, Abel said it can take her two days to make one.
The veterans that were awarded quilts from the Texas Patriotic Piecemakers are Elaine Browning-Haynes, Darleen Williams, Tom Slye, Emir Gaiters, David Albalat, Steven Rise and Alberto Salazer.