AP NEWS

Patchwork Pride

March 19, 2019

Heroes come in many forms. One local quilting group chooses to honor American service members and veterans by making and donating patriotic-themed quilt tops to the American Hero Quilts project. On March 4, these Snowbird Quilters held their end of season quilt show. Snowbird Quilters, who stay at one of the parks on the island, have been crafting and donating quilt tops for 9 or 10 years.

On that recent Monday, 43 quilt tops were on display. Residents, quilters, and supporters alike walked among the colorful works of art and marveled at the inspiration and creativity of these volunteers.

Each spring, as Snowbird Quilters gather the quilt tops they’ve made during the winter months, they hold a fundraiser. Residents of the park donate their crafts as raffle prizes, and other generous folks donate prizes of gift certificates. This year, prizes included a quilt donated anonymously, a meticulously carved walking stick, hand-tied fly fishing flies, works of art, jewelry, fleece blankets, hand-knit afghans, and many other treasures.

The American Hero Quilts project was founded in 2004 to provide recognition and appreciation to wounded service men and women who served in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. This all-volunteer charitable organization is still going strong some 14 years later. As of the end of 2018, American Hero Quilts have provided approximately 27,800 quilts to our deserving men and women and their families. Snowbird Quilters are just some of the more than 800 volunteers who participate in the program.

American Hero Quilts sends their quilts to Madigan Hospital at Joint Base Lewis McCord, other Warrior Transition Centers in the U.S., and directly to bases in Afghanistan and Qatar. Veterans in crisis and hospice also receive their quilts. American Hero has built a network of volunteers who ship these quilts all over the world at no cost to the charity.

Snowbird Quilters is led by winter resident Shelley Oxley. Oxley estimates that their quilting group has made and donated over 400 quilt tops in its 9-10 year history. These quilters work for 5 months each winter season to prepare quilt kits for American Hero Quilts. American Hero has specific fabric and size and quality standards within which quilts can be considered for donation.

There are many ways that individuals, clubs, churches, neighborhoods, or businesses can get involved. For those who would like to help or donate to Snowbird Quilters, email Oxley at snowbirdquilters@gmail.com. American Hero Quilts is a non profit, Section 501(C)(3) charitable organization. Donations are tax deductible. See americanheroquilts.com for more information.

The American Hero Quilts website contains numerous notes and letters from quilt recipients and their families. Consider that, for some, a handmade quilt can mean so much at a time of crisis. One letter reads, “Our son was wrapped in his quilt the entire time he was hospitalized, now it’s on his bed at his apartment. He wanted me to tell you ... that it provided him so much comfort in the midst of the shock and uncertainty of his injury and subsequent evacuation.”

Thank you, indeed, to our American heroes.