One stitch of a time

 

                  Bonnie Barnhart sits down at her sewing machine to piece together a quilt. With every piece that she pieces together, she hopes that the final product will help to bring a piece of home to the Veteran that the quilt will be wrapped around as it is being presented.

                  It all started six years ago when she began quilting for not only herself but others and knew she wanted to get involved in a movement for the men and women who serve our nation, with her husband being a Veteran himself. Then two years ago while at a quilt show, Bonnie was introduced to the Eastern Iowa coordinator Arlis Fritz, and was given the information about Quilts of Valor and how to get started, and she hasn’t stopped since.

                  Bonnie is a quilter for an organization called “Quilts of Valor”, a nationwide organization started by Katherine Roberts when her son was coming home from being deployed. Roberts has a dream that all service members should be covered with a quilt. From there Quilts of Valor was born. This organization honors current service men and women as well as Veterans from all over.

                  With the help of Sandy Smithart and a few other ladies along the way, Barnhart has already pieced together many quilts and has two in the process as of now. “I am already planning the next quilt and I have one in the machine and one being stitched together”, Barnhart states. Each quilt comes with a sewn in label to show who helped with the quilt along the way and also comes with a pillow case, known as a presentation case to be given to the recipient. When being presented, the quilt is then wrapped around the individual to show that the goal is to provide comfort and healing to those affected by war.

                  Although Barnhart and Smithart have been completing quilts from start to finish, the organization website has a web of quilters that can work together. One individual may have made the topper and another may have done the quilting. Members are able to reach out to one another and complete different steps along the way. Every day many quilts are being shipped around the world while members try to make a difference, one stitch at a time.

                  All Quilts of Valor are made from 100 percent cotton materials, which is one of the many requirements that the organization has. Barnhart and Smithart have purchased most of their materials themselves, but say they have gotten donations from others that know the mission they are on. With a single quilt costing approximately $200 to $300, and requiring hours to complete, Barnhart says there is no putting a price tag on the sacrifices the individual has made that will receive the quilt and plans to keep sewing until she is no longer able to. In fact, her hope is to be able to present five or six to local service men and women during the next Memorial Day program. Last week alone, Barnhart was able to wrap a quilt around a service man from North English and is traveling to a birthday celebration this weekend to present another.

                   With 502 quilts donated this month and 146,074 total quilts donated, and this number growing every day, this organization just keeps getting larger. Quilts are not only awarded in the United States, but also to those who are serving overseas in evacuation hospitals. If you know someone you would like to nominate to be a recipient of a quilt, you can request a quilt at http://www.qovf.org/request-qov/. A quilt of Valor is a single lifetime award.