CEDAR FALLS, Iowa --- Fingers moved quickly and nimbly as members of the Keepsake Quilters Guild busily pieced and quilted together red, white and blue fabric.
For more than two decades, the guild has supplied quilts of all sizes and colors to bring warmth and comfort to neonatal intensive care infants, hospice patients, military personnel, shut-ins and families in crisis. On Monday, 14 quilters gathered at Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Cedar Falls to prepare gifts for Black Hawk County veterans of World War II.
"We don't want them to be forgotten and once we get the World War II veterans we are going to start on the Korean War groups," said Janet O'Neil of Cedar Falls, who heads up Quilts to Share, the guild's community service arm.
To date, the guild has donated quilts to at least 140 veterans of World War II. Quilters, who have been in touch with the county and veterans organizations, estimate they need to make and donate another 150 or so to reach every living WWII veteran in the county.
The president of Keepsake Quilters Guild, Carol Garrett, challenged members to collectively finish enough quilt blocks to make 10 quilt tops. The guild turned in more than 430 blocks, enough to make at least two dozen quilt tops, according to the Keepsake Quilters Guild.
Donna Hansen joined the guild 20 years ago. As both a quilter and a volunteer for Cedar Valley hospice, Hansen saw firsthand how a quilt could put a smile on the face of a person who felt ill or lonely.
"The quilts add some warmth to it," Hansen said.
The Keepsake Quilters Guild also auctioned off one of its masterpieces to raise funds for Honor Flight --- a program that sends military veterans to visit monuments in Washington, D.C. The quilt raised $800, Hansen said.
The labor of love is time consuming. Hansen estimated a bed quilt can take 140 hours to complete. Smaller quilts take at least half that much time.
Though donations of fabric and additional volunteers are always welcome, the guild's more than 70 members are committed to service.
"Everyone's pretty dedicated," Hansen said.
The quilts are a way to honor the service of veterans who returned home after World War II with little fanfare, according to Kathy Zeets of Waterloo. Laura Sniffen of Cedar Falls, another quilter, also wanted to do her part.
"I've just always had a great respect for veterans," Sniffen said.
For more information about Quilts to Share or to place a request for a quilt for a World War II Black Hawk County veteran, call Janet O'Neil at (319) 266-9476.