Quilts of Valor group honors those who have served nation

Area volunteers offer array of talents for nonprofit.

VANDALIA – More hands continue to join a local effort to create Quilts of Valor intended to “warm, heal and welcome home” those who have served the nation.

This is the fifth year for the Library Piecemakers group of volunteers offering an array of talents for the Quilts of Valor nonprofit foundation. The foundation’s goal is stated as covering service members and veterans touched by war with a freedom quilt, honoring them for their sacrifices. The organization was started in 2003 by a mother whose son was deployed overseas.

“She wanted to be able to extend appreciation and a hug,” said local project coordinator Nonda Harvey of Vandalia, adding the project has grown yearly since.

This year, 37 volunteers have participated in the local project making blocks, assembling tops and quilting. They sewed at home as well as at the Heck Community Center in Englewood.

In the local Quilts of Valor project’s first three years, volunteers worked from the Vandalia Branch of the Dayton Metro Library.

During the COVID-19 pandemic year, the volunteers worked from home with the quilts from that year displayed in October 2020 at the library behind glass once the library reopened.

The number of quilts made each year has grown. This year, the expected total is 39 quilts. During 2021, the Library Piecemakers’ 100th Quilt of Valor was created.

Program volunteers this year come from Tipp City, Huber Heights, Troy, New Carlisle, Englewood, Clayton, North Dayton, Vandalia and West Milton along with people in Florida, Minnesota and North Carolina also contributing.

Traci Cloud of North Dayton, who has several family members who have served, said she was interested in participating in the Quilts of Valor for a long time. When she got the opportunity to become involved a couple of years ago, “I jumped in with both feet,” she said.

Cloud has been making quilts of some form since she helped her mother as a child. A long-arm quilter, she has quilted a half dozen of these special quilts so far this year and had two more to complete. She also plans to again assist with the presentation of quilts.

The presentation ceremonies has been the most fulfilling part of her volunteering in the Quilts for Valor project, said Martie Kunkel of New Carlisle.

“The veterans and their family come in and have a look on their face like they can’t believe something like this is happening,” she said. Recognition of the family also is important, she said, adding many people don’t understand what the families of those serving go through.

Kunkel has been involved in the project three years in various roles, including sewing and picking up fabric, among several others.

One veteran sent her a letter, Kunkel said, saying the quilt would never leave his family.

Debbie Voss said sewing has been a passion for more than 50 years, but she only started quilting in 2013. A resident of Englewood, Voss said a friend invited her to join the Library Piecemakers.

She said she, too, has a passion for those who serve, such as her father who was in the Air Force. “This is something nice, nonpolitical and something that may bring a serviceman and family a lot of joy,” Voss said. “I am very, very excited about being a part of this group and being able to use my talents to give someone else joy.”

Local Quilts of Valor applications are available with an Aug. 10 deadline this year. They are considered in order received with any veterans of World War II considered first of all applicants, Harvey said.

Applications in excess of those quilts available this year will be held for consideration next year. A presentation date, time and location has not been finalized but will take place near Veterans Day.

The quilts will be on display at the Vandalia library in September. During that time, volunteers will work to finish binding, affix labels and sew presentation cases.

For more information on the September display, volunteering with the Library Piecemakers in 2022 or to obtain an application, contact Harvey at 937-672-3695 or charvey3@woh.rr.com.

Contact this reporter at nancykburr@aol.com.

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