Quilts give "warm hugs" to veterans
Thursday, Dec 29, 2016 06:00 am
Tucked away in a quiet room at Addie’s Creative Fabrics, a group of artistic and generous women are whipping up “warm hugs” for Canadian soldiers in need.
“It’s the idea that somebody they don’t know cares enough about them to do this,” said Sandy Carlile, Quilts of Valour’s Alberta South representative.
Quilts of Valour (QoV) is an international program that encourages volunteer quilters to make homemade blankets for injured and affected Canadian Forces members. Sewing experts follow a set of guidelines provided by the organization, and the finished quilts are presented to veterans and active members of the armed forces as part of the military’s outreach to soldiers as they adjust to civilian life.
Carlile is a former nurse in the United States Air Force, and her brothers, father-in-law and brothers-in-law were all stationed in Vietnam. She’s also an avid long-arm quilter, and she became involved with QoV so she could use her experience as an artist to help provide soldiers with a more supportive return home.
“The way the military was treated when they came from Vietnam was terrible,” she recalled.
Today, about eight Cochrane and area women – including Carlile – meet once a month at Addie’s, bringing everything from scraps of fabric and half-finished quilts to ornate blankets ready for final touches. They chat, help each other with details and have a good time – all while doing their good deed.
This year alone, more than 140 quilts from the Cochrane group have found their way to Canadian servicemen and women.
“It’s a warm hug,” said Carlile. “We hope it is a positive thing for people.”
Carlile said some veterans receive a quilt after participating in workshops and seminars for post-traumatic stress disorder. The blankets are meant to be a physical reminder of the techniques they’ve learned – and Carlile said she recalls the touching story of a soldier who would wrap himself and his wife in his quilt whenever the memories of war became too much to bear.
“Whenever he was having a bad day, they would both crawl under the quilt until he felt better. It was only a time for happy things,” she said. “It’s amazing … to hear of these things.”
Quilters interested in joining the Quilts of Valour group can contact Addie’s at (403) 932-1500.