As Veterans Day approaches, at least 63 Grant County men and women of valor will be honored for their military service with handmade, quality quilts at two events this month.
A small army of women have joined the Quilts of Valor Foundation in relation with the project.
Two groups, one from the Mt. Vernon and John Day area and another from Monument, have been furiously quilting over the past several months, preparing the special gifts.
On Oct. 18, five women gathered around tables at Karen Hinton’s quilting shop, The Shiny Thimble, in Mt. Vernon.
Hinton, who is president of the Grant County Piecemakers Guild, said she heard about the Quilts of Valor Foundation and decided as a New Year’s resolution to start a quilt in January.
“I talked about it at our guild meeting, and it just snowballed,” she said.
She said the guild has held special sewing days, working with partners.
Betty Ricker of Mt. Vernon said there are many veterans living in Grant County, and she’s enjoyed her involvement with the quilting project.
“It’s kind of like potato chips; you can’t make just one,” she said.
“It is fun getting together to work,” said Maudean Brown. “Some don’t sew but help in other ways.”
Gloria Kulis of John Day said she’s learned a lot about binding.
“It’s a team effort,” she said.
Mary Lou Drury has been quilting with her daughter Janice Dickens. Both are Mt. Vernon residents.
“I’ve enjoyed celebrating the folks who have served our country for our freedom,” Drury said.
Both Drury and Hinton have used their long arm quilting machines to finish off many of the projects.
As she quilts, Hinton said she keeps the veterans in mind.
“I think about what it would be like to be away from my family, for the families to have their loved ones gone for birthdays and holidays,” she said. “I’ve shed a few tears thinking about it.”
She plans to give one of her quilts to Mt. Vernon resident and Navy veteran Kenneth Delano.
Delano served as lieutenant commander in submarine service (1960-1981) as a weapons officer and in weapons systems procurement during the Cold War.
Hinton said the quilts for the program have to be made to a high standard, with quality prewashed fabric.
“They are heirloom quality,” Ricker said.
Karen added, “They deserve the best.”
“We’re going to continue,” Brown said. “We won’t have enough quilts for all the veterans, but the goal is for many more veterans to receive quilts.”
Veterans who would like to be added to the list for a quilt, or family members who know of a veteran, can contact Hinton.
She said Grant County Veteran Service Officer Katee Hoffman has been helpful in getting the word out about the project to veterans.
“We want to thank the veterans for their sacrifice,” Hinton said.
The guild will hold a taco feed at 5:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 9, at the John Day Elks Lodge 1824 where at least 25 veterans will be awarded a quilt.
The cost is $6 a person. All veterans and a guest may eat for free, as well as children 3 and under. Proceeds will help purchase supplies to make more Quilts of Valor.
Tickets may be purchased at The Shiny Thimble: 100 E. Main St., Mt. Vernon; Veteran Service Office, 530 E. Main St., Suite. 5, John Day; and The Squeeze In, 423 W. Main St., John Day.
Hinton asks people who plan to buy a ticket at the door to call her to RSVP, so they can plan on how much food to prepare. Volunteers to help at the dinner are needed.
To RSVP or volunteer, call Hinton at 541-932-4111 or 541-620-0120.
In Monument, Judy Harris has headed up a group called the Crazy Quilters — and they have been quilting “like crazy” since March for their local veterans.
Cheryl Ringering of Hamilton first introduced the others to Quilts of Valor in the spring.
“It blossomed from there,” Harris said.
The eight ladies in the group have submitted papers to join the program.
Army Air Cavalry veteran Bruce Kramer, who served during the Vietnam War; and Cheltz Cox, who served as a Seabee, the U.S. Navy construction battalion, in Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait from 2006-2014, are just two out of 38 veterans who will receive a quilt.
Harris said they completed a total of 47 quilts. Monument has a population of 125.
A Veterans Day luncheon will be held at noon on Sunday, Nov. 11, at the Monument Senior Center. The meal of ham and all the trimmings is free.
“What an honor to be able to give these quilts to these veterans,” Harris said. “They deserve this and much more.”
For more information, call Harris at 541-934-2244.