Quilts of Valor (QOV) is a group of men and women who handcraft beautiful, heirloom-quality quilts specifically for service members who have been wounded in the War on Terror. In February 2006, Katy Vickers and Cassandra Carson founded the QOV Kansas Bee which is based in Wichita. Starting out with only 4 members, QOV Kansas’ numbers soon multiplied after their attendance at a local quilt show. With satellite groups in Salina and Overland Park, there are now 200 members statewide. Efforts are currently being made to begin another satellite in Abilene.
Though many of the quilts tend to have a patriotic color scheme, the creators are free to use any color or design they choose. The fabrics used must be of good quality, and since many of these quilts will be spending time in the hospital with their new owners, it’s important that they are able to withstand machine washings. Because of this, they’re quilted with the use of a longarm quilting machine, which creates sturdier stitches in a shorter amount of time than hand-quilting would.
Even with so many people working on so many projects, the group maintains order throughout the entire process. Some measure, some cut, some stitch, and some do it all! Because there is so much involved in the creation of these quilts, members also take work home with them. They then regroup every second Saturday to work together.
Each stage of every quilt is carefully documented, from construction to its delivery. About one-third of the quilts created by the QOV Kansas Bee go to servicemen and women at the Robert J. Dole VA Medical Center in Wichita, and many others go to those at Irwin Army Community Hospital in Fort Riley. Family members of injured soldiers may also contact QOV and request that a quilt be sent to their loved one.
Many QOV members have relatives who are in the military, though some such as Lisa Conner (pictured left), do not. “This is my second time here, and I’m having so much fun!” said Lisa, who started coming to the meetings with a friend who is part of the group.
When I visited the group briefly one Saturday morning, I was truly inspired. Not only are the members donating their time and skills to serve those who serve, but they are benefitting each through the camaraderie gained by working together toward a common goal. Their involvement with the group also provides them with a creative outlet and a way to hone their crafting skills.
Members not only give time and skills, but also money. Nearly all of the materials and supplies needed to create these quilts are provided by the quilters themselves, which is why any donation received is greatly appreciated. If you are interested in donating, please check out the Donations page on their website.
Likewise, if you are interested in becoming a member, please visit their website to learn more! Check out QuiltsofValorKS.org, or visit the group at one of their meetings. QOV meets once monthly, every second Saturday at Tyler Road Baptist Church, located at 571 S. Tyler Road, just off of Kellogg/54 in west Wichita.
As of mid-August 2011, QOV Kansas Bee had sent out 681 quilts.