Saluting valor, every day, all year

Published 12:00 am Monday, June 9, 2008

SUFFOLK—The Quilts of Valor Foundation recognizes Memorial Day every day, so the holiday last month was just another chance for the ladies who started their own branch of Quilts of Valor in Suffolk to reflect on what they are doing for service members.

The Quilts of Valor Foundation is a national organization that aims to send quilts to all war-wounded soldiers involved in the War against Terror. Wounded soldiers include both those with physical wounds and those with mental wounds.

For the past two months, women from Suffolk, Ivor, Windsor and Smithfield have been gathering at the Ladybug quilting shop at 600 W. Washington St. in Suffolk to make quilts to send to soldiers.

“Every war that’s ever been there’s been wartime quilters, and that’s what they call us,” said Nancy Strickland, one of the women who started the Suffolk branch.

Strickland first decided to start the group when she heard about Quilts of Valor at the Suffolk Quilt Guild. Women from Virginia Beach talked about what they were doing and read from thank you letters they had received from service men who had received some of their quilts.

“I sat there with tears in my eyes over some of the letters,” Strickland said.

When Cynthia Cossu, owner of the Ladybug, agreed to host the meetings, Strickland began organizing. The women have been meeting the first Tuesday of every month from 6-8 p.m. and the second Thursday of each month from 11 a.m. until whenever people are ready to leave.

“We come in here, and it’s like a little sweat-shop,” Strickland said.

So far, the women have between 25 and 30 quilts being fixed. Strickland said her goal was to have 50 quilts to send off in a package. She hopes to send the quilts to Camp Lejeune or possibly to a hospital in Germany.

When the quilts reach their destination, they are placed on the gurneys of the wounded soldiers. The quilts stay with the soldiers throughout the course of their recovery. The family is given the quilt if the soldier does not survive.

“It lets them know we support them and we are behind them,” Strickland said.

Each quilt has special requirements. A quilt made in the shape of a gold star is not allowed because it signifies the death of a soldier, Strickland said. A quilt made like an American flag is also not allowed because the organization does not want the soldier to wake up and think it is a flag on top of his coffin. Also, the quilts must be 100 percent cotton so that they can be sterilized.

Strickland says that any and all help is needed, whether it is quilting, with or without experience, fabric donations, or monetary donations. The women at the Ladybug offer help to beginner quilters, 25 percent off anything bought for the Quilts of Valor, free patterns and have both long arm quilting and binding services for free.

Strickland hopes that the first shipment will go off in July. In the mean time, the women will continue to meet and quilt.

“We have a good time,” Strickland said. “It’s more like a social when we get together.”

For more information, contact the Ladybug quilt shop at (757) 934-0033 or visit the Quilts of Valor Foundation Web site at