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Quilts of Valor: Gifts for American Soldiers

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Underwood, ND (WDAY TV) - This weekend, 40 women from Otter Tail county will board a bus for Ft. Bragg.

It is no sight-seeing tour... The women are quilters, and for the past several months, they have been making some heartfelt gifts for our American Soldiers who have been serving overseas.

On this last cool, crisp day of September, the inside of St. James Catholic Church turned into a fellowship factory.

"Sewing all the strips together; sewing them into blocks and putting them back together."

Sewing machine needles pounded thread into quilt squares. Women patiently and meticulously cut, sewed and ironed the day away, all for a soldier.

Emma Ciliberti- Quilter: "We pin around the edge. That is my job to take these home and sew the edging on." Every year, for the last four years, women's quilting groups in Otter Tail County have sewn and shipped 4,500 quilts to U.S. soldiers, all part of a program called Quilts of Valor.

Arlene Craig- Quilter: "How much they appreciate getting the quilts, and sometimes it is emotional."

This weekend, these women will board a bus for Ft. Bragg.

"My fourth trip."

A week long journey...The goal? Deliver 1,100 quilts to soldiers; some hurt physically and mentally because of war. Phyllis Kusnierek- Quilter: "You feel bad for what they have gone through, but it is so rewarding to hand them that quilt and they hug the quilt like it is a piece of their mother."

One of the biggest rewards for the quilters comes days, weeks and months after the quilt distribution when hundreds of the soldiers send letters.

"This is why we do it."

"Thanks for the quilts. It reminds me of ones my mom used to make."

Emma Ciliberti just got this letter a few days ago.

"I am at a loss for words at the amount of kindness and caring you show."

There are books full of photos and letters from thankful soldiers.

"It tells us they are getting where they are going, doing what they should and giving them a piece of home. That is what we are doing."

Sure, it is just a few piece of cloth sewn together, but these women, who watched their mothers and grandmothers do this, today are showing all of us, what happens when hands, hearts and a room full of thanks turn out something like this. The Underwood Boy Scouts will load up the quilts early Saturday morning and the Quilts of Valor Ladies will leave for Fort Bragg, for a delivery set for next week.

Kevin Wallevand

Kevin Wallevand has been a Reporter at WDAY-TV since 1983. He is a native of Vining, Minnesota in Otter Tail County. His series and documentary work have brought him to Africa, Vietnam, Haiti, Kosovo, South America, Mongolia and the Middle East. He is an Emmy and Edward R. Murrow award recipient.

(701) 241-5317
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