2nd ID soldiers, wives make quilts to warm Korean orphans
By SETH ROBSON | STARS AND STRIPES Published: January 27, 2005
CAMP STANLEY, South Korea — Until recently, the tough fighting men from the 2nd Infantry Division were not famed for their busy hands.
But in the last few months, Camp Stanley-based 2nd ID soldiers have helped craft 140 quilts to be presented to orphans living in the South Korean city of Uijongbu, said Lt. Col. Ed Mount, 2nd ID Division Artillery (Divarty) executive officer and president of the Camp Stanley Orphan Council.
The project was spearheaded by Alice Ridge, wife of Divarty and Camp Stanley commander Col. Ross E. Ridge, and Camp Stanley American Red Cross representative Marietta O’Brien, Mount said.
The women, both experienced quilters, enlisted the help of soldiers based at Camp Stanley and soldiers’ wives from Yongsan Garrison in Seoul to make the quilts, which will be given to children from the Isaac House Orphanage on Feb. 5, when Koreans mark the Lunar New Year.
“The quilts are all different sizes, colors and designs, but there is an emphasis on bright colors that will appeal to children,” Mount said.
The Lunar New Year is a major Korean holiday, he said.
“Chusok is the Korean Thanksgiving and Lunar New Year is like their Christmas,” he said.
Camp Stanley-based soldiers visit Isaac House each month to play with children there. They donate $750 a month to pay for heating the orphanage during winter, Mount said.
The orphanage, one of three in Uijongbu, is overflowing. It normally houses about 98 children, but in November the numbers went up to 108, most likely a result of the weakened Korean economy, Mount said.
“People brought children in and just left them at the orphanage because they could not afford to take care of them,” he said.
A red, white and blue quilt made by Alice Ridge will be auctioned on base, with the funds raised going to the orphanage, he added.
Col. Ridge said quilting is his wife’s passion.
“Our kids have headed off to college. They all have quilts and our spare bedroom is now a sewing room. I have installed shelves filled with fabric for the next quilt project,” he said.
His wife taught quilting to many soldiers — both men and women — at Camp Stanley at regular Sunday meetings at the Community Activities Center, he said.
Alice Ridge said she made 30 quilt tops and did additional work on about 100 of the 140 quilts to be presented to the orphans.
“I hope the children are going to be ecstatic,” she said. “We heard there are 105 kids but we made 140 quilts so all of the children will be able to choose.”
There were 12 “hard-core regulars” involved in the quilt project as well as soldiers who just stopped by to see what was happening and stayed to help, Ridge said.
One of the soldiers who helped, Capt. Barret Curnutte of 2nd Battalion, 2nd Aviation Regiment, was reluctant to take much credit for his work, which he described as “ironing.”
“My wife was quilting and I got roped into it. I didn’t really enjoy it, but it is a labor of love so I did it,” he said.
Curnutte said he has no plans to do much quilting in the future.
“I don’t even plan to take up ironing full-time,” he added.