The Keepsake Quilters Club presented 21 handmade, patriotic-themed quilts to Wayne County veterans at the Greenville 4th of July Picnic on Saturday, July 7. The Keepsake Quilters group was formed in 2014. They describe themselves as a group of ladies whose passion is quilting. As part of the mission of their group, they are also committed to sharing their talents to honor and preserve the art of quilt making. This year, they were inspired to honor local veterans by the Quilts of Valor Foundation. Quilts of Valor is a national group that has given close to 200,000 handmade quilts to veterans and active servicemen and women.
Quilting as a way to help U.S. Service members has a long history in this country. At the start of World War I in 1917, the government urged citizens to, “Make quilts and save the blankets for our boys over there.” Quilts were also used as fundraisers, and many communities made quilts and banners to honor those who had served. Linda Scowden is in possession of a hand-pieced banner made in Lowndes during World War I that has a block for each Lowndes-area man that served, and a gold star for each Lowndes-area man that was killed in service to his country.
During World War II, quilts were made and raffled to provide funds to the American Red Cross. One popular type of fundraising quilt was the “signature quilt.” Businesses and individuals would pay to have their “signature” embroidered on quilt blocks. The signature funds helped pay for the quilt and generated money above and beyond the raffle sales.
The Keepsake Quilters hold a quilt show each year at Greenville’s annual 4th of July Picnic weekend to showcase the heirloom-quality quilts they and other area quilters make. Since 2016, they have also made approximately 70 Christmas quilts that have been given to Greenville Nursing Home residents during the holidays. This year, they spent January through July, making the patriotic quilts to present to veterans. The time and materials to make these quilts are all donated by club members. They also make one or two quilts throughout the year that are auctioned or raffled. Proceeds from these fundraisers allows them to purchase material and supplies for the quilts they donate.
At this year’s Greenville picnic, they asked all veterans and active servicemen and women to fill out an information card so they could be entered into a drawing to win one of the quilts. The oldest veteran present would automatically receive a quilt.
Quilt recipients were:
Truman Barks of Greenville, 93 years of age, was the oldest veteran present. He served in the U.S. Navy from 1944 to 1946 during World War II. His quilt, named United We Stand, was made by Linda Scowden.
Jessie Birmingham of Greenville served in the U.S. Army in Vietnam. On the card he turned in, Jessie made the comment, “Glad to be home.” His quilt, The Army Will Defend, was made by Lockie McMurry.
Mitchel Barks of Greenville served in the U.S. Navy from 1984 to1990. His quilt was made by Renee Kesler Greer.
J.R. Allen of Greenville served in the U.S. Army as a combat engineer in 1979. His quilt, Stripes and Stars, was made by Renay Kesler Greer.
Dale Hodge of Piedmont served in the U.S. Navy from 1967 to 1971. His quilt, Flag Star, was made by Loretta Ruble.
Harold Twidwell of Clubb served in the U.S. Army Reserve. His quilt, Stars and Stripes, was made by Mortina Williams.
Junior E. Wilson of Greenville served in the U.S. Army Infantry, 1958 to 1960. His quilt, Stars and Stripes, was made by Renee Kesler.
Woodrow Rosa, 92 years of age, of Williamsville, was the second oldest veteran present. He served in the U.S. Air Force in Guam during World War II. His quilt, Patriotic Rose, was made by Renee Kesler Greer.
Bill Williams of Patterson served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1957 to 1960. His quilt was made by Belinda Vaughn.
Ray White of Williamsville a Vietnam veteran, served in the U.S. Army from 1964 to 1966. His quilt, Salute to Heroes, was made by Linda Scowden.
Bruce McMurry of Patterson served in the U.S. Army from 1970 to 1971. His quilt, Flying Star, was made by Mortina Williams.
Chuck Greer of Williamsville served in the U.S. Army in 1970. On his card, he made the comment, “War is hell.” His quilt, Angels Will Guard You, was made by Lockie McMurry.
Joe Taylor of Williamsville served in the U.S. Army from 1961 to 1963. His quilt, Long May She Wave, was made by Mary Barks.
George Ploesser of Silva served in the U.S. Army from 1966 to 1968. His quilt, Stars Over America, was made by Loretta Ruble.
Ken Estes of Silva served in the U.S. Navy from 1974 to 2006. On his card, he made the comment, “I served and protected this great country, and would do it all again.” His quilt, True Blue American, was made by Rose Hodge.
Jerry Bollinger of Silva served in the Army Medical Corps in Germany. His quilt, Glory Stars, was made by Renay Kesler.
Dennis Osborn of Greenville served in the National Guard from 1981 to 1993. His quilt, Pathways to Freedom, was made by Diane Bennett.
Mike Green of Williamsville a Vietnam vet, served in the U.S. Army from 1968 to 1970 in South Vietnam close to Saigon. His quilt, For Home and Freedom, was made by Linda Scowden.
Darrell Atchison of Williamsville a veteran of Desert Storm in 1990, served in the U.S. Army (MOARNG) from 1981 to 2004. His quilt, One Nation, was made by Linda Scowden.
Chester Shrum of Greenville served in the U.S. Air Force from 1959 to 1964. His quilt, Friendship Star, was made by Loretta Ruble.
Ted Marlow of Silva served in the U.S. Army from 1970 to 1972. His quilt, Freedom Sampler, was made by Diane Bennett.
Those quilts not quilted by the ladies who pieced them, were quilted by Sue Shearrer, Tonya Deckard, Ruchh McMillan, and Dottie Vaughn.
At the end of the presentation, club member Mortina Williams thanked the veterans for their service, which she said has given all of us the freedom we enjoy to pursue our dreams. She then announced that a total of 25 veterans had filled out cards for the drawing, and that those five whose names weren’t drawn, would also be receiving a patriotic quilt from the Keepsake Quilters, just as soon as they could get more quilts made.
Anyone wishing to join the Keepsake Quilters or wanting to help them with their charitable projects by making a donation toward the cost of materials may contact Linda Scowden at 573-224-5534.