South Sound veterans receive “Quilts of Valor” at event

Dozens of veterans were presented with patriotic-themed quilts Friday during an event at the Department of Labor & Industries in Tumwater.

The handmade quilts were presented by members of the Ruby Street Quiltworks Quilts of Valor group.

“These Quilts of Valor were stitched with love, prayers, laughter and tears,” quilter Patsy Nedrow told the recipients. “But most of all, our sincere appreciation for your commitment and sacrifices in your service to our country.”

More than 101,000 quilts have been individually presented to veterans since the international Quilts of Valor Foundation began in 2003.

The L&I presentation included about 35 quilts given mostly to workers from the agency and others who were involved in its Veteran’s Day service last fall, according to organizer Linda Schmitt.

“This is just awesome,” said Army veteran and L&I data compiler Alberta Graves, 46, of Tacoma, as she admired her new quilt. “I just love it.”

About 15 quilters meet once a month at Ruby Street Quiltworks to work on Quilts of Valor projects. Most of the quilts are red, white and blue and take three weeks to a month to put together, Schmitt said.

Because the group had so many nominations for quilts after L&I’s Veterans Day event, the Ruby Street Quiltworks chapter asked for donations from other chapters.

Some of the quilts that were presented to local vets came from as far away as Utah, Schmitt said. The goal of Quilts of Valor “is to cover anyone touched by war with the comfort of a handmade quilt,” she said.

After the event, Roman Pitka, 65, of Tenino, said he was overwhelmed by the group’s generosity.

The Army and federal government retiree said he served two tours in Vietnam.

“Every time, I came back, I was spit at,” he said, his voice cracking with emotion. “Something like this is indescribable. ...I know it’s a lot of hard work because my wife is a quilter.”