It seems like a daunting goal — making a quilt for every veteran who lives at Sun City Anthem — but one group is well on its way.
Sun City Anthem Quilters for Veterans is a group of about 30 women who live at Sun City Anthem, a Del Webb community in west Henderson for those 55 and older. The local chapter — affiliated with the national nonprofit Iowa-based Quilts of Valor Foundation — started making quilts in 2017 and presents eight each month to members of the Sun City Anthem Veterans Club.
“We decided this was going to be in existence until every veteran at Sun City Anthem has a quilt,” chapter President Bonnie Meadows said.
When the group distributes its next batch of quilts Dec. 10, it will reach a total of 188 awarded.
“The quilts are just absolutely beautiful,” said Paul MacDowell, president of the Sun City Anthem Veterans Club. “Every single veteran, once he gets it, won’t even let anybody near it.”
Quilts of valor are patriotic-themed and include red, white and blue fabric. Each has a label that says “Quilt of Valor” and has information such as the name of the quilter, the state where the quilt was given and the recipient’s name.
Members of the Sun City Anthem Veterans Club who receive a quilt are “exceedingly, exceedingly grateful,” MacDowell said, and they make sure to arrive early at the meeting the day they’re scheduled to receive a quilt.
The veterans club has about 400 members — most of whom are veterans or veterans’ spouses. Not all veterans who live at Sun City Anthem are part of the club.
Quilters for Veterans started out by awarding quilts to the club’s World War II veterans, MacDowell said, noting there are a couple of dozen. Since, it has awarded quilts to veterans of other conflicts, including those who served in the Korean War.
Sun City Anthem Quilters for Veterans’ big yearly fundraiser is approaching. To raise money to buy quilting supplies, the group is participating in a Wreaths Across America fundraiser.
The quilting group is selling sponsorships for fresh balsam wreaths for $15 each. It will get back $5 per wreath.
The deadline to sponsor a wreath is Saturday. Wreaths will be placed at gravesites Dec. 14 at the Southern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Boulder City. Last year, Sun City Anthem Quilters for Veterans placed 150 wreaths.
Nevada is home to seven Quilts of Valor Foundation chapters, three of which are in the Las Vegas Valley: Sun City Anthem Quilters for Veterans in Henderson, Valor Quilters of Nevada in Las Vegas and Christmas Goose Quilt Shop in Las Vegas, according to the foundation’s website.
How the group started
Sun City Anthem Quilters for Veterans started with no money and women bought their own fabric, Meadows said. Now, the chapter receives donations, including from the Sun City Anthem Veterans Club.
When the chapter launched, members were making 10 quilts per month.
“Then, we decided we couldn’t keep up,” Meadows said, and now, they distribute eight each month.
Many of the group’s members sew at home. But during a “sew-athon” the third Friday of each month, quilters spend an afternoon together at Anthem Center’s sewing room.
During a sew-athon Nov. 15, Jill Yager was fixing a malfunction in two side seams of a quilt that will soon be presented to a veteran.
Yager — whose husband served for 24 years in the Air Force, followed by the Army and then the Department of Veterans Affairs — said she was excited to get involved with the quilting group and to give back.
She started quilting in 1995 through a quilting guild in Texas. The leaders “taught us all kinds of quilt making,” she said.
As for the Sun City quilting group, Meadows said it has received thank-you notes from veterans who’ve received a quilt. One of them: a veteran who served in the Vietnam War and didn’t receive a welcome reception when he returned home from war.
For some veterans who receive a quilt, Meadows said, they cry or are speechless.
How to help
Sponsor a wreath: Sun City Anthem Quilters for Veterans is selling wreath sponsorships for $15 each through Wreaths Across America. For each sponsorship, the quilting group will receive $5 back. To sponsor a wreath, visit wreathsacrossamerica.org/NV0068P.
Request a quilt of valor: To request a quilt of valor for a veteran, visit qovf.org. Across the nation, Quilts of Valor Foundation has distributed about 240,000 quilts to service members and veterans, according to its website.