Quilters comfort wounded vets

Published on: February 23, 2011

Mitch Traphagen Photo

Mitch Traphagen Photo

By Mitch Traphagen

SUN CITY CENTER – “We usually ask for the trauma unit because a lot of other people won’t go there,” said Jean Kluger. “It is very hard.”

Kluger is a member of the Kings Point Quilters. Once a year members from the club visit the James A. Haley Veterans Hospital in Tampa to distribute handmade quilts to wounded service members. The quilts are gifts made from the heart to honor and comfort those to whom the nation is deeply indebted.

“Each year they allow us to go into the protected areas of the hospital,” Kluger said. “We also take along some members from the Disabled Vets from Ruskin who come in to talk to some of the soldiers. To see a soldier, regardless of what type of service, hug this quilt—we tell them it’s stitched with love and thank you for your service—it is literally awe-inspiring. They appreciate it so very, very much.”

On February 17, the Kings Point Quilters displayed 58 quilts they had made over the past year for wounded service members. This week, they will take 50 of those quilts to the VA hospital, keeping eight quilts in reserve for future need over the coming year. The quilts represent untold hours of work assembling the fabric and stitching, and almost all of the club’s 84 members have a hand in the process.

The club also makes quilts for children involved with the Redlands Christian Migrant Association (RCMA). Regarding the RCMA children, Kruger said, “The quilts are theirs to keep. Many of the kids don’t have very much, but they have their quilts and it means a great deal to them.”

The club’s dedication also means a great deal to those who serve in other capacities. Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio sent a letter conveying her gratitude to each club member for their hard work and compassion on behalf of the veterans who have served the nation. “You are to be commended for turning your love of quilting into gifts benefiting such organizations,” Iorio wrote.

There is no downtime in the process. Once the quilts are given away, the work of making new quilts for the next year begins. And throughout the year special cases emerge in which a quilt made with love can brighten the darkest moments for a service member.

“There are so many special stories,” Kluger said. “One young man had to have his leg amputated. He asked how long he could borrow the quilt. We told him it was his to keep. He said finally he had something that would keep his missing leg warm. It is such an emotional experience.”

The Kings Point Quilters receive some assistance from service organizations and from other community clubs — but some of the cost, estimated to be anywhere from $25 to $50 per quilt, is paid by the members themselves. For more information about the club, or to donate to help fund this worthy cause, call 813-642-8505.

On March 11, the Kings Point Quilters will hold a quilt show, tentatively scheduled to be held at the North Clubhouse.