A blessing in a blanket: Annual quilters exhibit in Woodbury includes those made for veterans
Military veterans are given their due as part of an annual quilt exhibition at the R.H. Stafford Library in Woodbury.
This year, the River Valley Quilters Guild invited their members to include charity quilts as part of their annual show.
President Sue Bay of Newport said the 40 quilts on display include those that will go to pediatric units at area hospitals as well as to women's shelters.
"Charity quilting is nothing new for us," Bay said. "I think the members of our guild not only do things as a group but there are members of our guild who do things with charities associated with their church."
Thirteen of the quilts will end up with military veterans after the exhibit closes at the end of the month.
This baker's dozen was created by Guild members for the Quilts of Valor Foundation, a national organization that provides quilts to combat veterans and service men and women. Bay contributed a quilt to the exhibition that will be donated to a veteran through Newport Masonic Lodge 118. Her husband is a Navy veteran.
Quilts of Valor began in 2003 by Catherine Roberts of Seabrook, Del. The first quilt given was to a young serviceman from Minnesota who had lost a leg in Iraq.
Since then over 170,000 quilts have been given veterans across the country.
"Our goal is that these quilts will bring honor and comfort and the knowledge that their service and sacrifices are indeed valued by the American people," said Jenny Caughey of Perham, the Quilt of Valor foundation's Minnesota state coordinator.
The organization comprises registered groups as well as individuals.
Sharon Dimberg of Woodbury helped make many of the Quilts of Valor in the library exhibition, with the help of Connie Cocchiarella, Lila Dumcum, Marilyn Myers, Mary Rossi and Marilyn Smith.
In 2012, Dimberg made her first quilt of valor for her brother, Vietnam veteran Roger Vincent Karels. He served with the 11th Armored Cavalry Blackhorse regiment, who saw combat in some of the most brutal battles of the war, including the Tet Offensive in 1968.
"He's 17 years older than me," Dimberg said. "When he left I was 3 years old. I remember him leaving and I remember him coming back. He was very different.
"For decades he didn't talk about it. He had his medals, he had everything, but it was put away in a farmhouse."
Karels hung the quilt in his living room, she said. Eventually, he brought his medals, certificates and memorabilia out of storage and put them on display in his home.
Dimberg began to make quilts for her brother's fellow veterans who served in the 11th Armored. They began inviting her to their reunions.
"Forty-nine years later they are still together," she said. "They are there for each other. Having the pleasure of knowing them and meeting them is is beyond words. I would do anything for these Vietnam vets."
Their quilts will be presented at the Wounded Warriors Gala in spring 2018.
"I think the important thing is we do these quilts to give comforts to our service men and women whether they're in the current war or past wars," Dimberg said. "For a lot of them it is the start of the healing process to know that other people care about them and they're not forgotten. We don't look for any thanks back. It's not why we do it. We do it to thank them so we can live the way we live."
In 2013, Dimberg was part of a group of Quilts of Valor volunteers who traveled to Fort Campbell and Fort Knox in Kentucky. They packed their bus full of quilts.
"Watching these women interact with all these vets and giving them hugs was just amazing," she said. "t was the best thing ever. To this day if I see a vet, I tell them welcome home and thank them for their service."