COMMUNITY GEMS: Quilts of Valor aims to honor veterans

A community of approximately 50 quilters and their helpers work together each year to honor a group of veterans service members with Quilts of Valor.

Quilts of Valor are patriotic quilts following the guidelines of the Quilts of Valor Foundation. The local group is a Community Gem that meets at locations in Vandalia and Englewood, working on quilts throughout the year that they will present to a group of veterans during a special ceremony held in the fall around Veteran’s Day.

“When we do our awards close to Veteran’s Day this year, we will have awarded over 200 Quilts of Valor since 2017,” said Nonda Harvey, the coordinator for the Quilts of Valor Library Piecemakers.

The local group awarded three quilts in 2017. Last year, the group made 58 quilts, and this year, they expect to have around 49 quilts.

“It’s such a neat ceremony, and they individually present each person’s quilt to them,” said Lisa Sellars, American Legion Post 668, auxiliary president. Sellars often nominates veterans to receive a Quilt of Valor.

“(They’re) just an awesome group of ladies that take so much pride in putting together these patriotic—they are all red, white, and blue—patriotic quilts to present to the veterans. Just to give them a little thank you,” Sellars said.

The local group formed after a community room became available at the Vandalia Branch of the Dayton Metro Library, where their 49 quilts will be on display this year on Oct. 2 through Oct. 28.

“No two of them are alike,” Harvey said. The quilts are approximately 60 inches by 80 inches, made with patriotic red, white, and blue fabric that is usually donated to the group. The quilts, which can also range in intricacy, are also of no cost to the veterans who receive them.

“We think of it as a tangible hug and thank you for their service to our country,” Harvey said.

William Barney, a past commander for American Legion Post 668, received a Quilt of Valor. He served in the U.S. Army from 1969 to 1971.

“They are awesome,” Barney said about the group of quilters. “We donate to them also from our post.”

“I received one last year, and I was very honored,” said Ron Spieles, who served in the U.S. Air Force during the Korean War. “I feel that the ladies up there at the Vandalia library are doing a super job putting that together and making those quilts. They spend a lot of hours devoting their time, and it’s all volunteer, so I just think it’s wonderful that they’re doing that.”

Some of the Quilts of Valor makers also meet at the Englewood Earl Heck Community Center to collaborate on their quilts.

“We would love to give a quilt to every veteran that we can,” said Mary Guehl, one of the Englewood quilters.

“Mary and the rest of the ladies that come here that were doing Quilts of Valor got me inspired to start, and I have several friends that were military, retired veterans, and it just seemed like such a worthy project,” said Sarah Shell. “Particularly the Vietnam veterans were not honored the way they should have been, so that particular group is very dear to my heart.”

Donna Alexander, another Englewood quilter, a presented a World War II veteran with a Quilt of Valor once while he was surrounded by multiple generations of his family.

“He was holding a six-month-old baby and the rest of his family was around them, and they made in occasion of it,” Alexander said. “They knew he was going to be presented with it, and it was very, very touching watching this vet with all of his family.”

Larry Rosenbeck is an Army veteran from Englewood who served in Vietnam in 1969 and 1970.

“It was fantastic,” Larry Rosenbeck said about receiving his Quilt of Valor. Rosenbeck is an Army veteran from Englewood who served in Vietnam in 1969 and 1970. “When we came home, there was nobody at the airports. Nobody concerned about the Vietnam vets, it was kind of a negative thing back then, and now we’ve gotten our just due basically because people like these wonderful folks take good care of us.”

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