The Smoky Mountain Quilters guild surprised members of Franklin's American Legion Post 108, when they present three service members with Quilts of Valor (QOV) for their service and dedication to the United States Military. Smoky Mountain quilters Terry Barr and Carlie Nichols displayed half a dozen quilts that were made by a team of volunteers for each veteran to choose from.
Franklin veterans Ken Carpenter, Don Bowen, and Mike Coates have all served the United States as members of the Navy. They were selected to receive QOV for their service in the military and their service to the community since their return.
“I am honored to have been selected to receive a quilt, but I am sure there are more deserving veterans,” said a humbled Carpenter. “Thank you from the bottom of my heart, not just for me, but for what you do for all veterans.”
Coates echoed what Carpenter said and added, “Thank you for thinking of us and for wanting to work to continue welcoming home veterans.”
“This is just a very small way of being able to thank our current service men and veterans,” said Barr. “Some come home to nothing, and receive no thanks for their service, so I started working with QOV to do my part in making sure that doesn't happen.”
Quilts of Valor Foundation (QOVF) is a nonprofit organization comprised solely of volunteers who work toward their mission of covering “all those service members and veterans touched by war with Wartime Quilts called Quilts of Valor (QOVs). This foundation is not about politics. It’s about people.”
Since its inception, QOVF has spread like wildfire throughout the country and has active groups in every state in America. The foundation has evolved into a national grassroots community service effort, connecting the home-front with wounded combat warriors and veterans. QOVF has produced and distributed around 50,000 quilts for service members.
The foundation also has coalition members in Canada and the United Kingdom. The QOVF understands that even though the warriors in other countries are not fighting for America, they are still touched by war and are equally deserving of the comfort the foundation has sought to bring to servicemen and women.
The QOVF is adopted by local quilting guilds and is an addition to programs that already exist within the guild. Region Eight of the Quilts of Valor Foundation is directed by coordinator Susan Gordon and consists of quilters from Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee. The Smoky Mountain Quilters Guild is the local guild in Franklin and including the three quilts at the American Legion Post, have given a total of 354 quilts since the chapter was first formed in 2008.
Each of the quilts that are provided by QOVF are generous lap-sized quilts made from quality fabrics and usually sport patriotic themes. Each quilt is stitched with love, prayers and healing thoughts. Once the quilt has been bound, washed, labeled and wrapped in a presentation case, it is ready to be awarded. Depending on the local QOVF group that creates a quilt, other items are also given along with the quilt.
Often times along with the quilts, service members will receive a journal that was kept during the process of making the quilt. Volunteers who work on the quilt document the quilt’s creation with pictures, thoughts, and information and what goes into making the quilt. Because quilts are distributed so widely, it is rare that quilters get to meet the service member who receives their quilt. The journals allow a personal perspective and offers service members the chance to know more about the volunteers who continue to work hard to provide quilts.
The quilts are distributed through various organizations ranging from chaplains at military hospitals to special presentations that award entire service units after they return home from combat to individual presentation to veterans. Regardless of how a quilt is awarded, the impact they deliver is without equal.