2018-05-11 / Society

Gov. Robert Gibbes Chapter, National Society Colonial Dames XVII Century, to present program on Quilts of Valor

By Warren Hughes

Quilts of Labor volunteers Anne Mixon and Stephanie Alexander Quilts of Labor volunteers Anne Mixon and Stephanie Alexander Gifted with her hands, Stephanie Alexander has dedicated her talent as a quilter in fellowship with other volunteers to honor military veterans for their service by gifting them with “Quilts of Valor,” in warm appreciation for their service.

She will share her joy as a leader in the national program as the featured speaker at the May 17 meeting of the Gov. Robert Gibbes Chapter, National Society Colonial Dames XVII Century. As retired registrar for the U.S. Army Chaplain Center and School at Fort Jackson, Alexander spent years as a frontline observer of the military’s contribution to the country, especially through combat service.

Sewing since she was a child, she first learned of the “Quilts of Valor program at a local quilting shop she frequented. The shop generously donated classroom space on designated days for anyone to come in and work on a Quilt of Valor,” she recalls.

Quilts of Valor is a non-profit foundation whose goal is to provide service members and veterans touched by war with the warmth and comfort of a handmade coverlet in honor of their service and sacrifice.

Begun in 2003, the movement has spread across the United States and beyond. According to the U.S. Department of Defense, there were 25,910 American military personnel in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria in 2017 alone. More than 6,000 have been killed in war in the Middle East since 2001 and more than 45,000 have been wounded.

Alexander has long been involved in quilting for charities, but a pivotal moment came when a Quilt of Valor was presented to a military veteran member of her North Springs Home and Garden Club.

Alexander was amazed to learn it was the first time someone had demonstrated appreciation to the recipient for her service. “This was my turning point,” she said. Incredulous no one had ever thanked the recipient before that occasion, Alexander knew she had found her major cause.

“Quilts of Valor is about people, not politics,” she stresses. “We are an all-volunteer organization. Every dollar raised goes directly into fabric, batting and thread. Many volunteers use their own money to purchase materials, so donations will help us work through the wait list,” she added.

“The Quilts of Valor Foundation estimates the cost to make one quilt is $300. For those who do not know how to sew, there are non-sewing things that need to be done. Volunteers are needed to travel throughout the state to present quilts to veterans, she said.”

South Carolina “wraps” more than 2,000 veterans and service members every year. This demonstrates the patriotism that exists within our state.

South Carolina is the only state with a dedicated brick and mortar Quilts of Valor facility, located in St. Matthews.

With 1,200 Veterans on a wait list just in South Carolina, it can take up to two years to receive a quilt. She encourages those who are interested to come take part in the effort, saying, “Come to St. Matthews and help us put kits together, iron, or cut fabric.” Find Quilts of Valor - Region 8 on Facebook.

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