By Andrea Newell

Times correspondent

Moving into a new year, Linda Lafford, founder of the local branch of Quilts of Valor, is still working toward her goal of making 1,000 quilts by the end of the year. What better way to see this goal through than the National Quilts of Valor Sew Day?

Every year, the National Quilts of Valor Foundation observes a sew day on the first Saturday of February. On Feb. 3, Lafford and seven other women gathered at the Liars’ Lodge in Buena Vista to sew until they could sew no more.

Each woman brought enough quilting supplies to keep her busy throughout the day. Local Lou Ann Johnson worked carefully on a pattern she created herself. “I had to invent it rather than follow a standard pattern,” she said. “It’s taking me forever.”

Nevertheless, Johnson was determined to finish the project that day. Her next project, she said, would have to be a much easier one to balance out the challenge.

“I really enjoy knowing where they go,” she added. “I sponsored a quilt in honor of a father-in-law last year … and gave it to his widow, my mother-in-law, and she was extremely, extremely pleased.”

Salida resident Betsy DeHaven brought four quilts to give herself a variety of things to work on should she get tired of sewing one of them.

“I think it’s fun,” said DeHaven. “If I’m going to be sewing quilts anyway, I might as well be making them for somebody who can use them.”

“I feel proud,” said Nathrop resident and longtime Quilts of Valor member Becky Robinson, “proud to be working on a quilt for a soldier. It doesn’t matter what soldier this goes to; I’m just really thrilled that I get to make one for him or her.”

Robinson also reflected on her first time presenting a quilt to a veteran at a PTSD graduation ceremony.

“When I gave it to him, he cried,” she said. “I told him, ‘This is a quilt I made for you, and if you feel sad or lonely just take this quilt and wrap it around you.’ He said, ‘You can bet I will.’ I cross-stitched a purple heart on the back of that quilt. Ever since then, I’ve been putting purple hearts on my quilts. I think they deserve a purple heart. That was a very moving experience for me. I would love to do it again.”

By the end of the day, six quilt tops were completed and four were near completion. Lafford will complete the quilts by sewing on their backs.

The results of the day were fantastic, Lafford said. “I was extremely pleased with the outcome of the day and two of the people attending did win a prize from National Quilts of Valor.”

“I am thrilled they are here,” said Liars’ Lodge owner Michael Sorrels during the event. Having known a wounded veteran since high school, Sorrels was completely on board to support their cause, even displaying a sponsored quilt at Liars’ Lodge.

Anyone can sponsor a quilt for $75, Lafford added. The price includes all fabric and mailing costs. Sponsors will receive a photo of the quilt and be told of its destination.

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