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Group's Quilts of Valor project shows veterans they are remembered

By ERIC JOHNSON | Austin Daily Herald, Minn. | Published: August 10, 2019

AUSTIN, Minn. (Tribune News Service) — Recognizing veterans has become an important aspect of today’s society.

The sacrifice and the service has been brought to the forefront as a way to honor those in America’s armed services.

A group in Austin is working to that end while at the same time establishing a partnership that will help both groups grow.

This week four Quilts of Valor were bestowed on veterans from SPAM Post 570, including Mary Fargen, Jane Handel, Sheila Baumgartner and Erin Johnson, by members of the Dorcas Quilting Group of Austin Congregational Church UCC. Two more will be donated at another date to Stephanie Boon and Deb Joel, both of whom were not available.

Decorated with a variety of patriotic emblems such as the stars and stripes and the Statue of Liberty, Quilts of Valor are this group’s way of showing that people still recognize the sacrifices veterans have made, in whatever way that was.

“I’ve never heard of the program,” said Eileen Chao, a member of SPAM Post 570. “You feel like it’s a real honor to be appreciated by it. It’s comforting and a constant reminder of what we did is still appreciated.”

The Dorcas Quilting Group has created all sorts of quilts for many different occasions and Quilts of Valor is just one of those causes.

While holding the same name, this group is not a member of the national Quilts of Valor that gifts quilts to people from around the country. And while the cause is still great, with the national organization gifting nearly 16,000 quilts just this year to date, this local group strives to keep its donations at home.

“We typically donated Quilts of Valor to local people,” said group member Dawn Krause. “We just prefer to take care of our local people.”

Everything that goes into the making of the quilts is done at the church by group members, including stitching the quilt and its major pieces, which is done by a a long-arm stitching machine the church was able to purchase thanks to a donation.

“The class of 1966 gave us a very generous donation and went toward that,” said Mari Jo Stanek.

Locally, since the group started making Quilts of Valor in 2005, over 500 quilts have been given away to groups like SPAM Post 570 and those veterans in nursing homes.

And there is that partnership with SPAM Post 570. Both groups use the Quilts of Valor to make others known of both parties.

“They’re looking for members at 570 and they’re looking for people to help quilt,” said Gladys, a Marine Corp. veteran herself.

While the process of making the quilt and finding the time to give the quilts away can be time consuming, you won’t hear anybody complain about it. Not when there is so much to be thankful for.

“It’s just to say ‘thank you’ for their service,” said Stanek. “It shows them we support them — and families, who pick up the slack.”

©2019 the Austin Daily Herald (Austin, Minn.)
Visit the Austin Daily Herald (Austin, Minn.) at www.austindailyherald.com
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