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A Heartwarming Experience

A little over a year ago I registered as a long arm quilter with the Quilts of Valor Foundation to complete one quilt per month. Each month I get paired with someone who has completed a top and they send me the top and backing in the mail. I supply the batting, complete the top with an all-over star design, and then mail the quilt back. Since I have been volunteering I have quilted 12 tops from Iowa and Nebraska.

At the beginning of May I was paired with Mrs. Gregory, the FCS teacher from Waverly High School, to complete a top that was created by her Fashion Design class. As a retired teacher I am always excited to see students involved with Quilts of Valor. So many lessons can be learned from this one outstanding project - history, an understanding of how veterans and others feel about their service, volunteerism, quilt construction. In our first communication I expressed an interest in returning the top to the class when it was completed rather than just mailing it back. She readily agreed to my idea!

Mrs. Gregory delivered the quilt to me in person so that we could meet and I could show her what was involved in quilting the top on my long arm. I told her that I had planned to finish the quilt the following day and was even able to send her a picture of it on my long arm frame. We discussed a plan for me to return the quilt to the class. The recipient of the Quilt of Valor was planning to be in class that day, too.

On the morning of May 10th, Tom and I made the drive to Waverly where we were met in the high school office by a member of the Fashion Design class who also happened to be the daughter of a former Adams student! The students were seated around a large table on which I could lay out their quilt. There were lots of oohs and aahs and they seemed genuinely pleased about what they had accomplished. I told them that I had squared up the top and bottom of the quilt so that I could load it on the long arm frame. I explained that the sides would also need to be trimmed before the binding could be applied. They asked questions about how my machine worked and how much it cost.

The highlight of the morning occurred when the honored veteran arrived as she happened to be a former administrator with whom I had worked when I taught at Irving Middle School. Reesa Eisler is a Waverly graduate and resident who served an 18-month tour of duty in Vietnam. She told the students funny and moving stories about being a “Donut Dolly”. These women had college degrees and were deployed by the Red Cross to boost morale as part of its Supplemental Recreational Activities Overseas program. She used the quilt to focus the student’s attention on what can be accomplished when we all work together.

The quilt will now be bound and awarded to Reesa as thanks for her service during the Vietnam War. She was extremely thankful to have been honored and recognized in this way. And Mrs. Gregory has planted the seed for her students to become students of history, volunteers, and even quilters. Congratulations to all!

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