Laura Knowlton | Submitted photo
Quilts of Valor recipient Roger Gilmer with his grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Front (from left) Titus Knowlton, Eithan Knowlton and Roger Gilmer; back row Ashley Knowlton, Ezra Knowlton, Vania Knowlton, Barbara Thomas, Caleb Knowlton, Austin Knowlton, Jane Knowlton, Savannah Knowlton and Emily Knowlton.
Four Okanogan County veterans were honored last month with handmade quilts from the local chapter of Quilts of Valor.
Honorees were Private First Class Charles Nickells, Corporal James Bridges, Petty Officer Third Class Frederick Bender and Specialist Roger Dale Gilmer.
Nickells, who served in the U.S. Marines from 1965-1971, was stationed in San Diego, Calif. His quilt was pieced by Charlene Brown and quilted by Sue Freden.
Bridges served in the U.S. Army from 1967-1969 and the Army National Guard Reserves. He was stationed in Vietnam. His quilt was pieced and quilted by June Turner.
Bender, who recently went on Honor Flight, served in the U.S. Navy from 1957 – 1961. His quilt was pieced by Martha Peppones and was quilted by Laurie Morgan.
Bender was awarded his quilt during the Tonasket High School Veterans Day assembly.
Gilmer served in the U.S. Army from 1970-1972 in Korea. He was awarded the National Defense Service Medal & the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal. He was an Army Reservist until 1976. His quilt was donated, pieced and quilted by George Penner of the Highland Stitchers. His quilt was presented by Virginia Newton and Patti Hill.
“I became aware of Quilts of Valor through teacher Brian Ellis who had fundraisers for the Garland Quilts of Valor Group in Spokane,” said Patti Hill who is a member of the local chapter. “Garland group provided some local quilters with quilt kits to make a quilt. The Washington state Quilts of Valor coordinator encouraged me to form a group locally, so our group was formed in February 2023. It encompasses a wide area including Okanogan County, Ferry County and Douglas County.”
“Our local group here, North Central QOV, has 15 members and has awarded four quilts since our group was formed,” Hill said. “Today will make fifth and sixth as there is also a quilt presentation at the Mansfield High School assembly.”
Earlier this year the local group honored Michal Daharsh, Michael Kelly, Norman Elliott Marchall and William Gomez.
Quilts of Valor began as a dream, according to founder Catherine Roberts.
Roberts was home in the United States as her son was deployed in Iraq around 2003.
According to Roberts, the dream was as vivid as real life. As a result, she made it her mission to organize volunteers to donate time, materials, and love to put into quilts that would cover – both literally and emotionally – veterans. Roberts would name them Quilts of Valor.
Since then, more than 355,000 quilts have been made for the organization, with 19,000 made year-to-date alone. Washington state has 24 groups and 550 members as part of a national movement of over 10,000 members and 672 groups.
“We are always looking for new members to help,” Hill said. “The Cost of each quilt is $250 to $300. We have fundraisers to purchase the fabric, batting, etc. needed to make the quilts. We currently have a quilt raffle as a fundraiser.””
For more information about Quilts of Valor, see qovf.org, or email Hill at firstname.lastname@example.org. ♦
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