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ISSUE 118 VOL 15 PUBLISHED 4/8/2005

Locals quilt for soldiers

By Cate Grochala
Staff Writer

Friday, April 8, 2005

Colorful fabrics and carefully appliquéd quilts are making an appearance on the St. Olaf campus and the Northfield community. Led by Pat Hall, academic administrative assistant for the economics department and Nancy Hollinger, the academic administrative assistant for the history department, a group of 11 people working in a variety of departments across the campus are joining together twice a week to make quilts for soldiers injured in Iraq as part of the Quilts of Valor Project.

Hall founded the Quilts of Valor group at St. Olaf after seeing a segment on the CBS news about the project. She viewed the project’s website and contacted Catherine Roberts, the national director of Quilts of Valor. She then contacted Hollinger, and the two women spread the word about the project across campus.

The group held its first meeting Jan. 26 and is now working on its sixth quilt. Five more quilts will be sent to a chaplain at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center near Washington, D.C. The chaplain will then bless the quilts and give them to wounded service members.

The Quilts of Valor group does not have any information on the individual soldiers for whom they quilt. However, they are including scrapbooks for the soldiers as their own personal touch to the quilt. These scrapbooks detail the process of creating the quilt, brief biographies of the group members and their hopes for the soldier who receives it. The members will add their contact information as well in the scrapbook, so that a soldier who has received one of their quilts may contact them if he or she chooses.

"We hope they will see that there are people from all walks of life, from all over the country thinking of them," Hall said of the soldiers reading the scrapbooks.

For the St. Olaf community, Quilts of Valor brings together a variety of people with a variety of levels of quilting experience on campus. While getting to know new people has been a positive result of the group, creating quilts to comfort soldiers who have made a great sacrifice in the war remains their main goal.

"Our focus is on the soldiers," Hollinger said. "When we meet, we try to avoid talking about the politics of the war and focus on people we’re doing this for."

The St. Olaf group will create quilts as long as it can. Funding for the quilts comes largely from the pockets of the group members, although a few businesses and other organizations have made contributions. A quilt with a musical theme and a black and gold St. Olaf quilt are next.

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