'Quilted Hugs' for soldiers

Friday, September 24, 2004
Three generations of Ann Jones's family stand with a quilt meant for soldiers in Iraq. From left to right are Keirin Hatch, Ann Jones and Bailey Jones. Ann Jones credits Hatch, her mother, with coming up with the idea.

By Lynn A. Wade

Nevada Daily Mail

A quilt can conjure comforting memories of home, warming the soul as it warms the body on a cold winter's night.

"There's just something about a quilt. Something warm. Something special," said Ann Jones, Nevada. That's why Jones, with the help of the Bushwhacker Quilt Guild and many, many others, has undertaken the daunting task of collecting 153 quilts, handmade of fabric dyed in soft sand tones and crafted with love, for troops scheduled to head to Iraq sometime in early 2005.

Jones said there's no doubt the quilts would be used to keep soldiers warm. While the picture most of us get when we think of the desert is of sweltering heat, Jones said that during the winter months the nights are cold, and a quilt would be appreciated by many.

According to information Jones received in coordinating the project with the National Guard, 153 guardsmen, from across the state, will be gone for 18 months.

"About 50 percent of the m are from Vernon Barton and Cedar counties," Jones said; the rest are from other counties throughout the state.

"They all deserve our support. This is something that we can do to say we care about them. I don't know if I could go over there and do what they do. Here we are with all the comforts of home. They don't have anything like that," Jones said.

But making 153 quilts by Dec. 17 using the guild's resources alone is overwhleming -- in terms of the work involved as well as the cost of materials. So, Jones turned to the community for help.

"It's a huge undertaking. There's no way our little guild could get this done. But if 153 people all made quilts, we could be done in two weeks," she said.

Already, the community has begun to respond, with individuals and several businesses offering their support in a variety of ways.

Reports of activity are already pouring in, Jones said. The United Methodist Women already has the material to make 16 quilts. Barton County Commissioner John Stockdale is spreading the word in Lamar. Cathy Swopes, a Bushwhacker Quilt Guild member already has lined up several who are willing to craft the quilts.

Although the guild strongly prefers donations of finished quilts, there are other ways individuals can help. One woman who doesn't sew plans to buy the materials and help a friend create a quilt. Others can simply donate funds to pay for the materials that someone else could use to construct one -- there's an account set up at First National Bank for "Quilted Hugs," the official name of the quilting project. In fact, there's already been a donation made to the account. As Jones was opening the account, Chuck Dahmer, a veteran, made the first deposit.

Other businesses are helping out as well.

* Mary's Fabrics is offering a 25 percent discount on fabric used for these quilts, and already has a finished quilt on display in the front window.

* Kountry Kin Fabrics, Rich Hill, is offering a 20 percent discount on fabric used for these quilts and is serving as a drop-off point for them.

* Nevada Optometric Center is a drop-off point for finished quilts.

* Cavener's Office Supply is displaying a quilt, as is the Nevada Vernon County Area Chamber of Commerce.

* Ring TV and Appliances is saving boxes to store the quilts in until they are delivered to the soldiers.

* 4-H clubs are involving members in creating the quilts.

* Sharon Crosswhite, (417) 667-3344, and Louise Lewis, Rich Hill, (417) 395-2553 are available for quilting.

Jones's spirits were high as she related the long list of people already helping with the project. "It's so great how the communities are getting behind this," she said.

For those making the quilts, some rules in doing so must be followed.

"They can only be made of desert colors. No bright colors. We want them to blend in. We don't want to make them targets," Jones said.

Quilts must be 50 by 72 inches, and constructed of 100 percent cotton fabric for the top and backing (unbleached muslin is OK for the backing); and quilts should have low-loft batting. Quilts may e tied or quilted, but edges should be finished, or covered, so they will last longer in the harsh conditions to which they will be exposed.

Chances are good that the quilts will be passed on to others when the original recipients come home, so it will be a long-lasting gift that will touch many people, Jones said.

All quilts must be completed and received by the guild by Dec. 17, but Jones urges quilters to turn in the quilts as soon as they are finished.

"That way, we'll know how far we have to go," she said.

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