A Unique Welcome Home
Thursday, May 26, 2022
Media Contact: Jami Mattox | Agricultural Communications Services | 405-744-8061 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Imagine a young 4-H member whispering “Welcome home” into the ears of well-deserving veterans as they are wrapped in a quilt 4-H’ers spent weeks making by hand.
As 4-H alumni and supporters can tell you, the century-old organization is known for its ability to instill a sense of patriotism and passion for service in its members, said Cathy Allen, senior specialist for OSU Extension. The partnerships between Oklahoma 4-H clubs and the Quilts of Valor Foundation provide evidence of “hands to greater service,” she said.
The Quilts of Valor Foundation is a nationwide organization that presents handmade quilts to service members and veterans who have been impacted by war while serving their country.
Catherine Roberts, founder of the foundation, believes quilts equal healing, according to Quilts of Valor.
When Roberts founded the Quilts of Valor Foundation, she set high-quality standards for the organization, according to the foundation.
“A Quilt of Valor had to be quilted, not tied, which meant hand or machine quilting,” according to Quilts of Valor. “It would be awarded, not just passed out like magazines or videos, and would say unequivocally, ‘Thank you for your service, sacrifice and valor in serving our nation.’”
The Training, Leadership, and Community 4-H Club of Rogers County, Oklahoma, has partnered with the Quilts of Valor Foundation for multiple years.
The TLC Club 4-H members have made and awarded more than 32 quilts to local service members and veterans, said Donna Daley, the TLC Club volunteer leader.
The 4-H’ers enjoy thanking veterans for their service through this project, said Katie Parks, first grade member of the TLC 4-H Club. They also enjoy the process of making the quilts, which includes selecting fabric, designing, sewing, ironing and more, she added.
4-H members of all ages — from 5-year-old Cloverbuds to high school seniors — participate in this project, Daley said.
Members choose to participate because they are passionate about service and genuinely want to recognize and honor the service members and veterans who served their country, Daley said.
“To be eligible for a Quilt of Valor, a service member or veteran must be touched by war,” said Allison Fentriss, assistant executive director of the Quilts of Valor Foundation. “Only the service member or veteran can make that determination.”
When a Quilt of Valor is awarded to a veteran, the ceremony is typically held at an event such as a county fair, Veterans Day Ceremony or school assembly, Daley said. The presentation is often a surprise for the service members or veterans who are awarded, she added.
As part of the presentation, the 4-H members will deliver a prepared speech about the recipient’s service, Daley said. After the speech, the 4-H’ers will wrap the service member or veteran in the new quilt and whisper, “Welcome home.”
“Some of these veterans were not welcomed home with the hero’s welcome they deserved,” said Thorne Thomas, 11th grade member of the TLC 4-H Club. “It is very meaningful to all of us to get the chance to finally welcome them home with the appreciation they deserve.”
The Oklahoma 4-H clubs that partner with the Quilts of Valor Foundation work with Oklahoma Quilts of Valor coordinators to find potential quilt recipients in their areas.
The partnership cultivates a relationship among 4-H’ers and local service members and veterans, said Lynda Latta, 4-H educator in Ellis County, Oklahoma.
“It is so moving, especially for the youth,” Latta said. “For them to understand what these men and women have sacrificed for our freedom and then get to honor them, it’s always an exceptional presentation.”
Want to get involved?
Know a veteran who deserves a Quilt of Valor? The Quilts of Valor Foundation accepts nominations for recipients. To be eligible, the recipient must be a living veteran or service member.
Want to make a Quilt of Valor? Anyone interested in donating a Quilt of Valor should contact a local group or Quilt of Valor state coordinator to complete the registration process.
Visit the Quilts of Valor Foundation for more information.
Story By: Sarah Henderson | Cowboy Journal