The Quilts of Valor Committee of the Smoky Mountain Quilters Guild of Franklin, along with members of Misty Mountain Quilters Guild from Blairsville, Ga., and the Cashiers Guild presented Quilts of Valor to members of the North Carolina National Guard's 210th Military Police Company during their company's Christmas party in Sylva on Sunday, Dec. 8.
The men and women, who came from all over North Carolina and several adjacent states, were able to choose their quilt from more than 80 quilts on display. Following the presentation ceremony, guild members wrote the name of each recipient on their quilt, wrapped them in their quilt and thanked them for their service, sacrifice, and valor. Approximately one third of their members have been deployed overseas, some with multiple deployments. Thirty additional members are currently in Afghanistan and will return in the spring and will receive their Quilt of Valor at that time. The soldiers appeared to be surprised when they realized the quilts were for them. Some had even asked if they were for sale. During the ceremony, Captain Porter presented coins of appreciation to several members of the community who have been supportive of the 210th, including the Smoky Mountain Quilters Guild.
The quilters have never undertaken a presentation this large and have been working on this large number of quilts since this past January. The guilds also like to include extra quilts so that no one feels obligated to take the last one. After a brief break, the quilters will begin work on the 30 more needed by next spring.
The national Quilts of Valor Foundation was started by Catherine Roberts when she made a quilt for her son after he was deployed to Iraq. She decided the next step was to get a group of friends together to make quilts for other people in his unit and expanded the foundation to the world-wide movement it has become today. Carlie Nichols started the Smoky Mountain Quilter's QOV group in 2008 based on the same basic principle of the national QOV Foundation – to make comforting and healing quilts for military personnel and veterans touched by war. This group is approaching the 400-quilt mark and consists of around 25 participants. Most of them have some kind of tie to the military through family members who have served or are currently serving. Some just want to honor our military personnel. All of them want to thank and help heal service men and women who have been touched by war.