The Central Flint Hills Area Quilt of Valor will present handmade quilts to around eight veterans at the American Legion Post 45 on Nov. 12, the day after Veterans Day, at 7 p.m.
Volunteers in the area of all ages create the quilts. Donna Martinson, coordinator of the organization, said their youngest volunteer is 9 years old and their oldest is 92 years old. She said they have around 85 volunteers doing various levels of work.
Since the organization came together in the Flint Hills area in 2015, they have awarded about 393 quilts to military members and veterans, and after Friday, that number will rise to more than 400.
Martinson said the quilts honor and give comfort to those who served in the military or are in active service. Family or friends typically nominate those they believe would benefit from the comfort of the quilt and the symbol of thanks for honorable service.
Quilts are never awarded as a surprise because of how emotional the experience is. Martinson said it is wonderful to see the reactions military members and veterans have when they receive a quilt.
“They are extremely appreciative,” she said. “They feel that, particularly with those individuals who have not been recognized previously or honored for their service, that because this is a civilian award, it let’s them know that everyday Americans appreciate their service and acknowledge that there was great sacrifice in doing what they have done on behalf of the county.”
The quilts can have a variety of different designs, but must all be the same size, in accordance with the Quilts of Valor Foundation. They must have a patriotic design. Some popular designs are quilts with large panels with eagles, stars or the Pledge of Allegiance on them. The quilts can also be personalized with photos if the nominee or family request it.
Montika Allen-Atkinson, of Junction City, made quilts for the foundation before there was a Flint Hills Area association. Now, she works with Martinson in the organization, continuing to create quilts for military members and veterans.
“It kind of brought the communities together,” Allen-Atkinson said. “We have people from Salina, Abilene, Herington, Milford, Wakefield, Clay Center, Manhattan, Dwight; the surrounding towns have really come together for that.”
Two quilting clubs in the area also make quilts for the organization, including Sunflower Quilters Guild and Mahogany Thread Quilters. A number of businesses have helped sponsor the project in different ways, including D.E.L. Motors, EAE Enterprises, Godfrey’s Indoor Ranges and Tactical Supply, Quilters Yard, the Military Affairs Council, the Geary County Veterans Alliance, the American Legion and Disabled American Veterans, as well as many individuals.
Martinson said they are always happy to add more volunteers and quilt-makers to the Central Flint Hills Area Quilt of Valor organization. To volunteer or sponsor the group for materials to create more quilts, contact Martinson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To learn more about the Quilts of Valor Foundation, visit qovf.org.