FORT BLISS, Texas—Members of the Paso Del Norte Quilt Guild gathered at the Soldier and Family Assistance Center, here, Feb. 13 to present soldiers from the Warrior Transition Battalion with handmade quilts.
The wounded soldiers browsed more than 35 free quilts, an array of cookies and an assortment of books.
Quilt pieces signed by children and adults from all over the country were sewn together by volunteer forces of the quilters guild with the promise of bringing warmth to the recipients. The quilts also brought a piece of home to soldiers who are away from their homes.
Soldiers showed their appreciation with grateful hugs, cheerful conversations and hearty handshakes.
“A wounded soldier or not, any support from the community is awesome,” said Spc. Daniel Downing, a combat engineer with 819th Engineer Company (Sapper), Arizona Army National Guard. “We make a small sacrifice when we join the Army, or any service. The people back home make the biggest sacrifice.”
Downing, who received the Purple Heart Medal for injuries he incurred while deployed to Afghanistan, was presented with a special American flag quilt.
Sharon Clouser has been making quilts for the wounded soldiers as part of the guild since 2000 and took over the reins of the project in 2007.
Clouser, who originally hails from Michigan, said she was looking for a local place to support with the quilts and came upon the SFAC. The quilters have been bringing quilts to the WTB Soldiers since 2007.
Members of the guild come and go and interest in the project goes through ups and downs, but Clouser and the guild are always looking for people to help with the quilts.
“There are always little things to do for anyone interested in helping,” said Clouser. “We get most of the signatures for the quilts from gun shows, and we could use people to gather those."
A true testament to the use of non-quilting volunteers by the guild is Maryann Lau-Sargent. While looking for an out-reach project, she happened upon the guild.
“I help with getting signatures, ironing quilt squares, baking cookies and anywhere else I can help,” said Lau-Sargent. “It means a lot to me how much the Soldiers appreciate the quilts.”
The quilters will be collecting signatures for the next batch of quilts during the El Paso Gun Show, March 8-9 at the El Maida Shrine Temple. Those signatures will be made into quilts and presented to the WTB Soldiers in June.
“When they say ‘thank you’ it really means a lot to me,” said Downing about the quilters and other Americans. “Yeah, [being a Soldier is] our job, but they appreciate it and that means a lot to me.”
For more information about the quilt project or to find out how you can help, email firstname.lastname@example.org. The Paso Del Norte Quilt Guild meets at the University Presbyterian Church at 244 N. Resler Drive on the 2nd Saturday of Each month at 9:30 a.m.