Quilters aim to comfort veterans

Colorful quilts were draped around the shoulders of several of Louisa’s World War II and Korean War veterans at the Veterans Day ceremony last month on the Louisa Courthouse lawn. The quilts were made by volunteers here in the county who are part of a group known as Common Threads.

The quilters meet every month at St. James Episcopal Church in the town of Louisa. Their aim is to make enough quilts to give them to all surviving veterans of the two wars. Once they’ve accomplished that goal, they intend to do the same for the county’s Vietnam War vets.

“It’s not really about us,” said Marie Farrell, a Common Threads member. “It’s about reaching and honoring the [veterans]. The mission is to cover service members and veterans touched by war with comfort and healing.”

The national Quilts of Valor program, started in 2003, provides ideas for the quilts’ designs, but the actual production is done by people who live in the veterans’ communities.

On a recent Wednesday, Farrell and four other Common Threads volunteers were hard at work on their sewing machines. One member has made seven quilts, another has finished six. In some cases the members collaborate to finish a quilt.

More contributors will be needed as the group starts making quilts for Vietnam veterans, who are a much larger group than the remaining veterans of earlier conflicts.

“We’d love for more quilters to contribute,” Farrell said. “They can provide fabric, make quilt tops and can be part of our community that makes them together.”

Residents who want to donate fabric to the group should only contribute 100 percent cotton fabric, not polyester blends, advised Tina Chaleki, another volunteer.

Veterans are not the only target audience for local quilters. For several years they have made quilts for some preschool students to lay on during nap time.

They also sent quilts to help with hurricane relief in North Carolina and to Shelter for Help in Emergency, an organization that aids domestic violence victims in the Louisa area.

These are the veterans who received quilts last month from Common Threads:

L. Earl Mason Sr., U.S. Navy, served March 1944 to May 1946

George Marshall, U.S. Army, served May 1943 to December 1944

Robert Morris, U.S. Army, served September 1952 to December 1953

Melvin Edwards, U.S. Army, served June 1953 to June 1961

Nelson Smith Sr., U.S. Army, served 1953 to 1955

Carl Harlow, U.S. Marine Corps, served 1943 to 1946

Carl Perkins, U.S. Army, served May 1942 to February 1947

John Thomasson, U.S. Army, served 1944 to 1946

Allen Pippen, U.S. Army, served 1945 to 1947