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Quilts of Valor a community affair; students lend a hand

By Staff | Feb 4, 2018

Members of the Main Street Sewing Society can’t wait to show their appreciation for combat veterans of Faribault County. Front row from left to right: Michele Hard, Carrie Meyer, Laurie Halverson, Julie Blagg, Marian Bell, Margie Elmore. Back row: Milton and Donna Steele. The Steeles say each quilt is individually wrapped in love.

While United States military personnel are known for their selfless acts of bravery, a certain group of local sewing aficionados have put a new twist on repaying those courageous individuals who have fought for our freedom.

The Main Street Sewing Society, a grassroots community of local quilters, has created quilts for military combat veterans of Faribault County since 2012. Last year, the sewing society produced 32 quilts of valor.

Modeled after the nation-wide Quilts of Valor project, this county-wide initiative lets local veterans know their sacrifices have not been forgotten. The group, who calls the endeavor “a labor of love,” meets regularly at Michele’s Quilting and Sewing Center on North Main in Blue Earth.

Interestingly enough, business owner and sewing society co-treasurer Michele Hard has brought in some reinforcements for this worthwhile cause. Hard and Blue Earth Area Middle School teacher Barbra Carlson came up with the idea to include an enthusiastic collection of 70 to 80 students in the Quilts of Valor project.

Carlson’s seventh grade students are broken up into two groups which meets every other day to work on quilting designs. This is the second consecutive quarter in which the students have been participating in the project.

Carlson explains her students were immediately receptive to the Quilts of Valor project after watching a class presentation by sewing society co-president Laurie Halverson in early January.

“The kids were very attentive because many of them have veterans in their families and they know to treat this topic with the utmost respect. Anytime you get to engage the students like that, they want to help, and this project gives them that opportunity,” Carlson says.

Meanwhile, Halverson also sensed excitement from the children prior to beginning the project. The sewing society co-president says the group she met with had a sense of history beyond their years.

“They were aware of what this meant and who we were doing this for. They were really enthusiastic and it was fun to see,” Halverson explained.

For the assignment, the eager children are provided with blank squares of background fabric. These pieces of fabric serve as the canvas for various designs using crayons and color pencils.

Once the design blocks have been completed by the students, they are submitted to sewing society volunteers who apply those patterns onto a quilt. Carlson’s students have created various designs which include bald eagles, American flags, as well as hearts and stars.

Last quarter, the Main Street Sewing Society received 40 designs from the students, with another 40 soon to be completed. Hard expects to make four quilts using the elaborate designs of some of Blue Earth’s most creative youngsters.

Halverson feels the input received from the middle school students adds a new look and fresh perspective to the on-going Quilts of Valor project.

“We’re always looking for new ideas, so we are trying to think outside the box,” Halverson says.

Given the positive feedback the sewing society has received from the community in this endeavor, the sewing society plans to seek even more local involvement in the near future.

“Next year we’re going to reach out to the high school, the 4-H group, and also St. Paul Lutheran. We’ll start out and reach out to some of the different groups because we want to involve the kids and get everyone to be a part of this,” Hard added.