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Westway OHCE community service project honors veterans

STILLWATER, Okla. (June 8, 2018) – When members of the Westway Oklahoma Home and Community Education, Inc. group use the words jelly rolls, honey buns and layer cakes, newcomers to the group may think they’re in for some tasty treats.

Alline Pfeiffer holds up one of the quilt tops the Westway OHCE group is working on for the group’s Quilts of Valor community service project. (Photo by Trisha Gedon)

 

 

But these words take on a completely different meaning when used in Alline Pfeiffer’s Orlando, Oklahoma, home when the OHCE members meet to work on their community service project. Though the group will have a delicious treat later, their main objective is to work on their Quilts of Valor. And the jelly rolls, honey buns and layer cakes aren’t found in the kitchen. Instead, these types of precut fabrics are found in her well-stocked sewing room.

“We started this community service project last year,” Pfeiffer said. “Our group was needing a community service project, so we decided on Quilts of Valor. This project was so well received, we’re continuing it again this year.”

According to the Quilts of Valor Foundation website, the mission is to cover service members and veterans touched by war with comforting and healing QOV. The QOVF began in 2003 with the first QOV being awarded in November of that year at Walter Reed Army Medical Center to a young soldier from Minnesota who had lost his leg in Iraq. In just 15 years, more than 188,000 quilts have been awarded to veterans around the world.

QOVF founder Catherine Roberts said on the website the QOVs would be awarded, not just passed out like magazines or videos. A Quilt of Valor would say unequivocally, “thank you for your service, sacrifice and valor” in serving our nation in combat.

Members of the Westway OHCE group presented their quilts at the Mulhall-Orlando Public School Veterans Day program in November 2017, and they are in the process of creating four more for this year’s observance. The 2017 recipients were Herman Flasch, who served in the Army in Korea for two years; Clarence Frey, an Army veteran who served in Germany; Jessie Spaulding, who served four years in the Air Force during the Vietnam War; and Army veteran Marshal Jackson, who served in World War II.

Frey said he is proud of his quilt and keeps it in the living room where visitors can see it.

“I’m real honored to be awarded this quilt,” Frey said. “It’s really something special to have people remember veterans. I’m very humbled.”

Part of the yearly program at the school includes a slide show of local veterans, but the event becomes even more special when the veterans are there in person.

“It’s important to make the presentation at the school with the students there so they can see the veterans in person,” Pfeiffer said.

Lorinda Schrammel said she finds this project very rewarding.

“When you see the looks on the veterans’ faces when they receive their quilts, it’s just amazing,” Schrammel said. “It’s also a learning experience for the students when they see the veterans in person. It’s one thing to read about the different military branches and wars in history class, but it’s something else to see the people in person who fought.”

Pfeiffer pointed out that sewing skills aren’t a necessity in order to help with the quilts, although several of the club members have many years of experience. There are different jobs that must be done to put a quilt together and they all don’t require the ability to use a sewing machine.

“We need people to cut fabric, press seams and help lay out the quilt designs,” she said. “You definitely don’t have to sew to be part of this. But for those members with sewing experience, many have gone on to make other quilts for themselves or other family members and friends. I’m so proud of all of them.”

There are club members with 50 or more years of sewing experience, as well as those with very little experience. Pfeiffer said she brings more than 70 years of experience to the table, and she enjoys the time she spends with friends creating the quilts.

Ruth Inman recently joined the Westway OHCE group and is excited to help with the QOV project.

“Quilting has always been special to me. My grandmother would hand-piece quilts when I was younger and that sparked my interest,” Inman said. “When I heard about the community service project Westway OHCE was doing, I knew I wanted to get involved. I wouldn’t necessarily be comfortable attempting a quilt on my own, but I’m excited about being involved with this group and doing my part to help create these quilts.”

Once the group has the quilt top pieced together, using the specific guidelines as required by the QOVF, Pfeiffer takes it to the Quilting Post, a quilt shop in Stillwater, Oklahoma, for quilting.

Terri Gibbs, owner of the business, said she was the first certified QOV quilt shop in Oklahoma and provides her quilting skill free of charge for these special quilts. She keeps her store stocked with patriotic fabric, as well as jelly rolls, honey buns and layer cakes.

“They bring me the quilt top they’ve pieced together, and I machine quilt it with the batting and the backing,” Gibbs said. “Then it goes back to the group and they sew on the binding.”

When quilting, Gibbs said there are different patterns she uses, depending on the quilt. There are QOV quilting patterns available.

“I’m happy to be part of these projects. It’s a big honor for these veterans, especially those from the Vietnam War, because they didn’t get a thank you.”

To learn more about Quilts of Valor and how your organization can get involved, please visit the Quilts of Valor Foundation website.

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Trisha Gedon
Agricultural Communications Services
Oklahoma State University
159 Agriculture North
Stillwater, OK  74078
405-744-3625 (phone)
405-744-5739 (fax)
trisha.gedon@okstate.edu

Oklahoma State University - Stillwater, OK 74078
405.744.5000

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