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Quilts of Valor

Memorable, meaningful mission

Created date

February 8th, 2016
Elaine Alexander with Quilts of Valor recepients
Elaine Alexander with Quilts of Valor recepients

Several Tallgrass Creek residents are among a national organization of volunteers whose 10,000 members have a meaningful, creative mission. The group belongs to the Quilts of Valor Foundation (QOV), which aims to give comforting, handmade quilts to American service people and veterans touched by war. The group’s mission hearkens back to Civil War days when soldiers leaving their homes to serve were given quilts to keep warm. 

Tallgrass Creek is one of several locations in the Kansas City metro where quilters gather to create the unique mementos. Resident Elaine Alexander has coordinated the project at Tallgrass Creek since 2008. Since then, the group has made hundreds of quilts, including 126 for U.S. veterans now living at Tallgrass Creek. 

Each veteran at Tallgrass Creek receives a quilt in ceremonies held annually on Veterans Day. Resident Merrill Stiles, a retired physician and Vietnam War veteran, received his quilt several years ago and remembers the ceremony well.

“The women who made the quilts call the names and service record of every veteran receiving a quilt that day,” says Merrill. “They wrap the quilts around each recipient and give a big hug. It’s very touching and personal.”

Weekly quilting

QOV quilters are both Tallgrass Creek residents and local volunteers and meet in the Overland Park community’s arts and crafts room Saturday mornings at 9 a.m. Lynn Lindsey is one of several residents who seldom misses a quilting session. 

“This is a way for me to honor my father who was a World War II vet,” says Lynn. “And in great quilting tradition, it’s fun to talk with others who have the same purpose.” 

A typical session will find quilters cutting and piecing quilt tops together using material they furnish themselves or from donors. They also create a label, which attaches to the quilt top with the service person’s name and rank, along with the name of the quilter. 

Once finished, the tops are sent along with batting and backing to a local quilter who uses an industrial machine called a long arm quilter to quilt the three layers together. Quilts are then returned to Tallgrass Creek for final binding. 

Many hands, many quilts

Nationally, the QOV foundation has donated about 130,000 quilts to U.S. military service people of all ages. Locally, the Tallgrass Creek chapter is currently working on 100 quilts that will be presented later this year at Fort Leavenworth, Kans., to those returning from military service in the Middle East. The quilters from Tallgrass Creek will be on hand to help. 

“We lay all the quilts out on tables so the returning military can see them,” says Elaine. “We usually have red, white, and blue designs, but we’ll have other colors, too, so they can choose exactly what they want.”   

Elaine also coordinates the Tallgrass Creek Quilters, another group of residents who makes quilts for organizations serving the needy as well as pillows for cancer support groups and hospitals. That group meets on Thursday mornings. 

“I spend a lot of time quilting,” says Elaine, who occasionally speaks to veterans’ organizations and other groups to explain the QOV project and seek fabric donations and volunteers. “The camaraderie is great, and it’s personally rewarding because we’re accomplishing something meaningful.” 

Tallgrass Creek veterans would agree.

“These women donate their own funds, time, and talent to make these lovely quilts for those who served, and we are so appreciative,” says Merrill. “Since receiving mine, I’ve not slept one night without it keeping me warm.”