By Linda Dillman
Canal Winchester quilters are honoring local veterans in a cozy way with handmade quilts.
With sewing machines humming in the background, Quilters on the Canal meets weekly to work on personal projects and create patriotic projects in red, white and blue with fabric swatches detailing veteran service records.
“I was aware of the national organization, Quilts of Valor. It’s a wonderful organization. However, VFW Post 10523 had their meetings in the Community Center where we met every week,” said quilt group leader Joyce Barrett. “Why would we make quilts and send them away when we had veterans right here in our own community? So, in 2014, we gave our first quilt to (veteran) John Crabtree. It is always an honor when I hand a veteran his or her quilt in person.”
Many of the ladies have made and donated several veterans’ quilts. Barrett, who quilts all of the finished tops on a long-arm quilt machine, said there are always two or three under construction and the VFW post supports the quilters with donations of fabric, batting, backing and thread.
VFW Post 10523 Commander Rick Williams said his members have overwhelming accepted the ladies and their quilts since the program began five years ago.
“The quilters were meeting at the community center, where we also meet, and they said they wanted to do something for the vets,” said Williams. “The majority of our members are Vietnam vets. I thought it would go over big, and it did. About 50 of our members have received quilts. They’re very proud to receive them and in the future, the quilts will be keepsakes for the family. They’re a great group of ladies and I think the maker takes real pride in seeing the recipient.”
One of those “makers” is Sue Cerkan, whose husband is a retired Air Force veteran. Although she’s only been quilting for a little over three years, she is working on her fifth military quilt.
Cerkan said she sews the quilts because it is important to honor veterans and to know what they’ve gone through. As a retired military wife, she is aware of the sacrifices veterans made in service to the country.
“It’s important to make the quilts and let them know we care,” said Cerkan. “It’s nice when we get to meet them when the quilts are presented.”
Helen McGuane’s husband is also an Air Force veteran. One of her brothers served in the Army and another was in the Marines. She has made two military quilts and is working on her third.
It takes her two to three weeks to complete work on the quilt, depending on how much time she has to devote to cutting out fabric pieces and sewing.
“It’s enjoyable because you know the person receiving the quilt will appreciate it,” said McGuane. “I know a lot of the veterans in town and we’re looking forward to making more quilts. Getting together on Mondays to work on the quilts is a nice social gathering. It’s a nice way to share the time.”
Barrett said when the 50×60-inch quilts are finished, she prepares a label after Williams gives her the name and service record of the recipient, which is attached to the back of the quilt. Four dozen quilts have been given to veterans by Quilters on the Canal since 2014.
“We try to have a quilt ready for each monthly meeting,” said Barrett. “On several occasions, we have presented the quilt in the home of the veteran. If a veteran has passed away, we still give a quilt to the spouse. We started with the World War II veterans first unless a more recent veteran was very ill. We are now making quilts for the Vietnam veterans. When every member of VFW Post 10523 has received a quilt, I will look for friends who have veterans in their families.”
Quilters on the Canal meets at the Frances Steube Community Center on Monday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.