Joan Winter, Marion, worked at her sewing machine and cut pieces of red fabric for a quilt Saturday in the Marion Community Center Basement.
She was part of a group of local, and regional seamstresses who were making quilts for Quilts of Valor all day. The Kansas branch of the national club set a goal to provide 400 heirloom quality quilts to Fort Riley, assistant director Martha Smith said. The quilts go to the 44th Cavalry Division, which has had 90 percent of its soldiers wounded and suffered 1-to-2 casualties a week fighting in Afghanistan.
Winter participated in her second Quilts of Valor event because she knows the sacrifice of military service. Her son, Shade, and daughter-in-law Tracy have served in the Air Force since 1992; they even met in the Air Force.
They are home for Thanksgiving but will soon go back to Afghanistan.
“They go wherever pilots go,” Winter said.
They are never far from danger. They were in the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan when it was attacked Sept. 13.
“I didn’t know he was in there until later,” Winter said. “That was good for me.”
Not all of the dozen quilters at the event had a military connection.
Sue Cameron, East Shore, was a assembling a “yellow brick road” patterned quilt on the eastern edge of the room. The quilt featured small squares of pink and will likely go to a servicewoman.
“The girls still want something feminine,” Smith said.
Cameron said she was participating with Quilts of Valor for the third time as a service.
“The least I can do as a quilter is give them something of a small comfort,” Camerson said.
However, she said she also quilted because it is something she loves to do.
“My husband says eventually I’ll be able to survive in the 17th Century,” Cameron joked
Dennis Joynt, Wichita, receives a fair amount of good-natured ribbing from his fellow quilters. He is one of the few men that regularly participate with Quilts of Valor, crafting over three dozen quilts for the program. He was even given a shirt by his wife and other quilters that reads, “man quilter” on the back.
“I can get serious and passionate over what I do, but with everything else you’ve got to keep smiling,” he said.
Joynt is passionate about quilts of valor because the program allows him to give back to veterans.
Joynt served six years in the Navy including a tour in Vietnam in 1970-71. While in southeast Asia, he suffered agent orange poisoning. It has contributed to his status as being 100 percent disabled. He has had four stints placed in his heart and suffered a heart attack.
“I have a chance for 13 different types of cancer,” Joynt said.
When he returned home from Vietnam, Joynt said he was one of many troops that was called baby killers and spit on by anti-war protesters. He wants to give soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan a warmer welcome.
“To you and me it might just be stripes and pastels,” Joynt said of a nearby quilt being assembled. “You give this to a vet and he’s going to see the love and care from the people that made it.”
As a veteran, Joynt is eligible to receive a quilt. Although he had not thought about receiving something he could easily make, he knows the thought and ceremony would mean a lot to him.
“Probably tears of joy,” Joynt said of a possible ceremony.