The South Bay Blue Star Moms (SBBSM) Sewing Stars awarded lovingly handmade Quilts of Valor to ten men and women veterans who served the United States in war time. The awards ceremony and reception, the third since the Sewing Stars began in 2012, was held Feb. 20 at American Legion Post 564, Santa Clara.
Five veterans unable to be present, including four WWII veterans in their 90s, would later receive their quilts privately.
And for the first time, a German shepherd service dog was awarded its own smaller quilt. “Niners,” who belongs to Santa Clara resident and Patriot Guard Rider Don Von Raesfeld Jr., rides with Von Raesfeld in a motorcycle sidecar in holiday parades.
“Love flows from our hands to the quilts,” said Debbie Parks, Sewing Stars co-chair with Cathy Crowder and Ida Henscheid, pointing out that the quilts are never raffled or sold, only awarded, and are to be passed down from generation to generation.
“Take your quilt home and use it. Don’t be afraid to wash it!” said Parks.
“As moms, all of you are our sons and daughters. Thank you so much for our freedom,” said Crowder.
Each veteran in turn was then wrapped in their quilt and hugged by the Sewing Stars.
“I’m very happy and so lucky to be here,” said Vietnam War Army veteran Noel La Berge. “I missed being on the Vietnam Memorial wall [in Washington, D.C.] by 15 – 20 seconds. It makes you realize how fleeting life is.”
“I didn’t do enough,” said 89-year-old Audrey Schenck, who served as a Naval nurse for two years during the Korean War.
The quilts are given patriotic names such as “Liberty’s Eagle” and “Brave Heart” by their makers. Each comes with a label identifying the recipient, the location and date it was awarded, the person who pieced it, the quilter, and their state. A handmade pillowcase is included.
The SBBSM Sewing Stars have awarded 160 quilts since they began piecing and sewing quilts four years ago. Each 60-inch by 70-inch (minimum) to 65-inch by 80-inch (maximum), 100 percent cotton quilt–most often red, white and blue–is made by the moms, a few sewing dads and community volunteers such as Kelsey Henscheid and Kaitlynn Jaramillo, seniors at Notre Dame High School, San Jose.
A Quilt of Valor costs $300 – $500 to make, and the Sewing Stars are grateful for the individual and business contributions and grants from the Mission City Community Fund that enable them to honor war veterans with Quilts of Valor.
As of March 1, quilts awarded through the national Quilts of Valor Foundation, begun in 2003, totaled 13,742. To nominate a veteran for a quilt, visit the QOVF website: www.QOVF.org.
“We thank you, God, for the faithfulness of those who have served, for their families, and for this country,” prayed Patriot Guard Rider and military chaplain Roland Garza at the Quilts of Valor awards ceremony. We know that freedom is not free and comes with a great cost.”
To help sew or otherwise contribute to the SBBSM quilt project, email the Sewing Stars at firstname.lastname@example.org and reference Sewing Stars in the subject line, or email Crowder at email@example.com. The Sewing Stars meet the first Friday evening of the month in Campbell.
For SBBSM information, visit www.southbaybluestarmoms.org. “Like” them on Facebook.