After delivering over 900 quilts to wounded vets, Quilts of Valor group stops in Hannibal.
A group of about 40 women, bound for Minnesota, were in Hannibal Thursday. And while they enjoyed their time in America’s Hometown, it will not rank as the highlight of their excursion.
The women, members of the non-profit organization, Quilts of Valor, had just delivered over 900 quilts to wounded veterans at Fort Knox and Fort Campbell in Kentucky.
“I’d like to think these quilts are a tangible way for us to show those soldiers that we appreciate them,” said Jenny Caughey, president of the quilting group from Otter Tail County, Minn.
The group traces its roots back to 2005 when eight women came together with the intent of making quilts for injured veterans.
“We put together a couple of quilt tops for that purpose and it just grew from there,” said Caughey.
While 37 Quilts of Valor members were in Hannibal, more could have been.
“I would say there are four women at home for every one that’s on the trip that are in some way helping us make these quilts,” said Caughey.
After mailing off their creations for years it was suggested they personally deliver at least some of them. It wasn’t long before they were asked to come to Fort Knox.
“It’s wintertime here in Minnesota. It’s 70 degrees in Kentucky. Yes, we could come,” laughed Caughey.
The group delivered 611 quilts on that May trip in 2010.
“We had a great time. It was a really wonderful reception there at Fort Knox,” said Caughey.
Invitations to Quilts of Valor then came from further south.
“In October 2011 we took 800 quilts to Fort Sam (Houston) and Fort Hood in Texas,” said Caughey.
While it’s a long drive from Minnesota to Kentucky and Texas, the group never lacks for fun.
“Our intention is for these quilts to get to the soldiers. If we happened to have a good time along the way, that’s frosting,” Caughey said with a smile.
An American Legion Post in Underwood, Minn., helps pay the group’s travel expenses.
“They said, ‘You have to go. It’s as important that those soldiers meet you as to receive these quilts.’ We didn’t understand that at the beginning, but after having been at Fort Knox and that reception that we got, we do understand it now,” said Caughey.
This year’s goal was to make 800 quilts. A total of 950 were distributed.
“The quilts go on (the motorcoach) first. If there’s no room for luggage, so be it. The quilts are top priority,” said Caughey.
The quilters enjoy watching the soldiers make their selection.
“Some want to choose one like their grandma used to make. Some want red, white and blue. It’s different for each soldier,” said Caughey. “The appreciation is palpable in the room and it spurs us on to go home, make more quilts and keep doing this. If someone had told me back in 2005 that we would still be doing this, I never would have believed it … never. I know that what we’re doing is a good thing.”
The Quilts of Valor group decided to spend Wednesday night in Hannibal.
“We don’t do any overnight driving,” said Caughey. “As I was looking at the map my geography and English from grade school kicked in and I realized it (Hannibal) was Samuel Clemens’ boyhood town. The more I read about it, the more I thought, ‘This would be a great place to stop,’ and it has been. It’s just delightful,” said Caughey.
On Thursday morning the women could be found inside the Hickory Stick, 326 N. Main St., looking for materials to use on next year’s quilts.
To learn more about Quilts of Valor’s current road trip, visit http://www.qovmission.blogspot.com/2013/04/destination-fort-knox.html .