Central students make contribution

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Quilts of Valor
Central students created enough blocks to make three Quilts of Valor, which will be presented later this year. Central instructor Deb Walz, second of the left, got a chance to see the finished work when members of the Breezy Ridge QOV group brought the quilts to The Backstitch in Elkader. Pictured above are, from left: Sharon Harmon, Walz, Cyndy Billmeyer and Bonnie Heiberger.

By Pam Reinig
Register Editor

Once again, Central students have proven they’re in a class by themselves by cutting and stitching together enough fabric blocks to make three Quilts of Valor, which will be presented later this year to a trio of deserving veterans.
“We felt so blessed to receive these blocks,” said Cyndy Billmeyer, Northeast Iowa QOV coordinator and a member of the Breezy Ridge QOV quilters. “Anytime we can get ready-made blocks, it makes it easier and faster to design a quilt top.”
Billmeyer added that Central is the only area school that’s participated in the effort she manages.

Student interest in the quilts was piqued by a presentation Billmeyer made in 2014 at Central’s Veteran’s Day program. Deb Walz, whose teaching assignments include a textiles class, put her students to work during their free time.
“Students would work on the (quilt blocks) when not working on their individual projects,” Walz explained. By spring 2017, they’d transferred all of their donated fabric into block, which Walz sent along to Billmeyer.
Walz and her students were surprised they’d made enough blocks for three quilts. Her incoming students will have a chance to participate in the effort, as well.

Billmeyer can’t say who or when the quilts will be presented. She generally receives that information only a few days before a ceremony. Her “territory” for honoring veterans extends from Elkader to Dubuque to Monticello. Thirty veterans were honored at two ceremonies this spring and Billmeyer expects to have three more events this year.

“We honor 12 to 15 veterans at each ceremony,” she explained. “I like to keep the ceremonies small to make sure each veteran feels important and has time to speak, if he wishes.”
The Breezy Ridge group is comprised of 15 women who meet monthly at Billmeyer’s home. They make more than 100 quilts annually; since forming in 2013, they’ve honored 479 veterans with quilts.
Billmeyer often involves young people in the quilt presentation. In that effort, she’s been assisted by Dubuque-area Boy Scouts. The presentation of the quilts to Billmeyer was done at The Backstitch in Elkader. Since it’s summer, Central students were unable to attend so they were represented by their teacher, Ms. Walz.

“Your youth can be very proud of the role they had in providing QOVs for three worthy service members,” Billmeyer said. “They used their talents and learning experiences in their textile classes to produce a work of textile art, which has a useful function and is very much appreciated.”

When she presents quilts to veterans, Billmeyer tells them she wants them to use the quilt, not just display it. “Wrap it around you to give you comfort and healing when you need it” is her message to the recipients—and many take her words to heart. She’s received feedback from several family members indicating that a quilt was a catalyst to sharing their service memories, good and bad.
Said Billmeyer, “That’s our mission—to honor, thank and welcome home, and to comfort and heal when needed. We consider each QOV our equivalent of the Purple Heart.”
There are several ways to get involved in the QOV effort. If you sew, you can join a local QOV group. There are groups in Elkader, Guttenberg, Monona and Decorah. Contact information can be found online at QOVF.org. You can also go solo in your stitching efforts (check the website for parameters and information on where to send finished blocks), or donate money or fabric. If you’d like to help with presentation ceremonies, contact your local American Legion. And if you’d like to nominate a veteran, refer to the “request a QOV” section on the website.

“We don’t select veterans to honor,” Billmeyer said, adding that “every veteran has earned a QOV by his or her service.”

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