Local nonprofit group hosts first annual SEW-A-THON to support local veterans and service members

Ten quilts of patriotic variety hung on the walls of a back room inside the Augusta Sewing Center on Friday.

 

The handmade quilts are among 169,900 that have been made for veterans and service members as part of a national initiative, spearheaded by the Quilts of Valor Foundation, to “cover service members and veterans touched by war with comforting and healing quilts.”

As part of the initiative, the Garden City group launched its first “sewathon” during which each person in attendance pledged time to assemble quilt blocks in support of the mission.

The sewathon, which launched at 9 a.m. Friday, is expected to continue until 5 p.m. Saturday.

Elizabeth Nolan, a board member for the foundation, said she hopes to raise $1,000 toward fabrics and other materials needed to make the quilts.

“If we can get there that would be really nice,” she said. “But for me I am looking at hopefully making this national so it won’t just be this shop but all of our Bernina shops across the country.”

During the event, attendees worked intently, cutting out shapes and assembling unique patterns for their quilt blocks which will eventually be sewn to make a quilt.

Among the group of veteran quilt makers was Vickie Gregory, who traveled from Frederick, Md., to attend the two-day event. Gregory, who has made quilts for 40 years, planned to stay the two full days as a way to “make a difference” and show those who served, and continue to serve that “we care.”

“It’s an honor to be able to do this,” she said as she cut a block of patterns Friday morning. “And it’s definitely for a wonderful cause.”

The cause for Dian Schichtel, who recently moved from Florida to Evans, is personal. Schichtel lost her son, a Marine who was stationed at Fort Gordon, to suicide. He had been suffering with PTSD after a near-death encounter with a bomb in Iraq.

“Everyone who does this stuff they have some kind of passion for it,” she said. “They (veterans and service members) don’t ask for help so we have to be there for them. So, it’s not donating for me, its part of me.”

The quilts are presented to nominated veterans and service members. Diane Collins, of the Garden City Quilters, said this is done through a ritual during which the veteran or service member is wrapped in their quilt and shares a “big, warm hug,” with the presenter.

“Some people take our freedoms for granted and here we want to give our service members a tangible comforting reminder that we are so grateful,” she said. “They’ve given their very best and we want to give them the best, too.”

Pledge sheets for the event are available at the Augusta Sewing Center at 3230 Washington Road or online at www.augustasewing.com/classes.htm when you register to participate.

To nominate a veteran or service member for a quilt, visit www.QOVF.org.

 

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