It’s always hard to find the perfect thank you gift. But the task becomes doubly hard when thanking veterans – those brave Americans who fight for the freedoms of men and women they will never meet.
For three years, Gail Belmont and teams of volunteers have offered a lasting, useful gift to those soldiers: custom-made, patriotic quilts.
“It really is a thank you for your service to your community, and your sacrifices so we can have our freedoms,” said Belmont, the director of Valley Springs-based nonprofit Quilts of Honor.
The tradition of gifting quilts dates back to the Civil War, when quilts would serve as bedrolls for soldiers heading off to war. Those quilts were so beloved that, when soldiers died, they would often be buried with their quilts.
Today, Quilts of Honor carries on that tradition with the help of many volunteers – the Turlock Quilt Guild chief among them. Barbara Barker, president of the Turlock Quilt Guild said local quilters became involved as a way of giving back.
“A lot of Vietnam vets didn’t get thanked,” Barker said. “This is just our way of making them feel good.”
Quilts of Honor awarded six local veterans with quilts on Monday, during the Turlock Quilt Guild’s regularly scheduled meeting. Some of the veterans had multiple tours to their name; others held Purple Hearts.
All thanked the quilters for their kind gesture.
“It’s an honoring experience,” said Michael Pharr, one of the veterans recognized. “They didn’t have to do this.”
More than that, the soldiers recognized the real-world value of the gift.
“If I go on a deployment, I’m going to take it,” Pharr said. “It gets cold.”
The most recent six quilt awardees follow the awarding of 14 veterans at the Turlock Quilt Show in February. And more deserving local veterans will soon receive quilts of their own, Barker said, holding up a pile of quilts in progress.
“We give six away and I’ve got eight more here already,” Barker said.
For more information, visit http://www.quiltsofhonor.org or call 772-2686.