The women of the Quilters Guild of the Bluegrass have taken on a uniquely patriotic challenge. They are making 100 quilts to give to active soldiers and veterans.
The challenge was posed to all local quilters by Leslie Damm, chairwoman of the community quilts committee, a partner with the guild, after a quilt shop owner near the Marine Corps base in Camp Lejeune, N.C., asked Damm for help with the project.
"I wanted us to do something big for our soldiers," Damm said.
The group plans to send the quilts to various veterans centers and the Marine Corps base. Before that happens, several of the quilts will be on display July 11 to 21 at the Lexington Lions Club Bluegrass Fair at Masterson Station Park.
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Members of the guild met twice a month at the Q First in Quilting store off Old Harrodsburg Road to work on their quilts and show one another their patriotic creations.
Behind rows of shelves stocked with colorful and printed fabrics, the women sat around tables binding quilts and discussing the latest news in their lives.
Recently, a container filled with quilts sat near Damm as she stitched the binding of a quilt bound for a veteran.
The quilting guild has met for more than 20 years. Damm says membership has fallen over time from more than 100 members to about 85, but they welcome quilters and those willing to learn.
"We have a fairly large group: some people like to cut, some people like to piece, some people like to quilt, some people like to bind and some people don't," Damm said.
Fairly simple patterns and the speedy use of quilting machines will help the women make their goal for the project, she said.
The quilts carry meaning for many of the soldiers who receive them. Damm told of a quilt being made for Matthew Bradford, a local Marine who is the first double amputee to re-enlist after being left blind and without both legs. One of the women is making a specially textured quilt with buttons and other attachments for him.
Several quilts carry the colors of the American flag, but a few have golf or fishing themes.
"We try and have a variety so they can have a choice," Damm said.
While they're serving their country, some want to be reminded of their everyday lives back home, Damm says.
"I've been told by people that a lot of the veterans, when they come back, they don't want to see red, white and blue, especially for the women," she said.
A woman who heard about the quilt challenge wanted to be sure the quilters did not forget the women serving and brought a pink quilt to commemorate her daughter entering the Air Force.
The quilts carry special meaning for the women who know service members and for those looking to do their part to support the troops.
Damm grew up in the generation of the Vietnam War. She said she was too young to do anything meaningful then, but for this generation's wars, she wants to show appreciation for the soldiers and their sacrifices.
The guild has not met its goal of 100 quilts yet, but about 15 have been delivered to the Thomson-Hood Veterans Center in Wilmore. The quilts are delivered as they're received, she said.
Among other projects, the women have sent quilts to The Nest — Center for Women, Children and Families, Ronald McDonald House and other charities.
The challenge is open to all local quilters. For more information or to participate, call Q First in Quilting at (859) 554-5800. The shop will be closed Thursday through July 4.