In the aftermath of 9/11, quilters across America organized, promising that any soldier wounded in the Middle Eastern conflict would receive a quilt. Bishop’s Calico Quilters joined this effort and 20 years later members of the guild are still making quilts, now for veterans who suffer long-term health problems from military service.
In 2003, a national organization was launched, Quilts of Valor, to organize the distribution of quilts to military and veterans hospitals. Leaders of QOV stress that these quilts are quality items, not “lap robes,” and that they are not given as “charity,” but as awards for service.
Over the years, 250,000 quilts have been made and distributed.
More than 10,000 volunteers, from all 50 states, contribute to Quilts of Valor, and more than 600 groups affiliate with the national organization, including the Calico Quilters.
Local quilters often spend their own money buying materials, although frequently fabric is donated. Most of the quilts are red, white and blue, and often with patriotic themes. The guild purchases batting and backing fabric in bulk to reduce the financial strain on members, and quilters with long-arm quilting machines contribute their time, effort, and thread.
Linda Dillon, who coordinates the Calico Quilters’ activities with the national organization, regularly posts an inventory of the quilts the guild has completed, with descriptions, sometimes photographs.
“Quilts of Valor contacts us,” she says, “letting us know where to send quilts and how many. Our major expense is postage, mailing quilts to the hospitals where they are needed. Most are in California, but I recently received a request to send quilts to Pennsylvania.”
The guild maintains a separate fund for QOV postage, and welcomes contributions for this cause. Address donations to Calico Quilters, P.O. Box 802, Bishop, CA 93515.