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Gloria Lund shows Elizabeth Heaton (left) and Rosemary Otte (right) a patriotic fabric she plans to use in a quilt she will make for the Quilts of Valor program, which sends quilts to soldiers and veterans. Photo by Hank Long

Quilting for a good cause

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Gloria Lund admits to having a bit of a busy personality. But when you have sewing and quilting skills that can be a good thing.

Lund's passion for working on the sewing machine generated out of necessity. She often made dresses, quilts and blankets for her three daughters when they were young.

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Now a great-grandmother, the Stonecrest Senior Living resident, said she continues to put her textiles skills to good use for family and, quite often, for total strangers.

A little more than a year ago, Lund organized a group of a half dozen women to form their own chapter of the national "Quilts of Valor" program, which aims to provide soldiers and veterans with quilts as a sign of appreciation for their service to the country.

Just about every Monday, Lund and her quilting cadre gather in their makeshift workroom at Stonecrest. Armed with mostly Singer-brand sewing machines (some of antique quality), and dozens of patterns of cloth to choose from, the ladies spend two or so hours conversing some, but mostly quilting for a cause that has become dear to their hearts.

"We love doing this, otherwise we wouldn't be doing it every week for thelast year," Lund said.

Lund estimates the Stonecrest group has finished more than 80 quilt tops since they began the project in July 2008.

The women at Stonecrest aren't alone in their endeavor to help soldiers and veterans find warmth and comfort.

Quilts of Valor chapters from around the state have made more than 1,200 in the last two years, said Helen Lucken, of Hastings, who is a regional coordinator for southern Minnesota chapters.

Lucken said about every eight to 10 weeks she drops a load of about three to four dozens ready made quilts to the VA Medical Center in Minneapolis and to the Minnesota National Guard to be shipped to soldiers who are on their second or sometimes third deployment overseas.

"It's an all-volunteer effort," Lucken said. "We make the time and effort because we just think this is a worthwhile cause."

At the first of every month when the Stonecrest group has finished about a half dozen or so quilts tops, they have them delivered to a quilting store in Apple Valley that offers local Quilts of Valor groups its space and resources to finish the quilt tops with long arm quilting machines. Volunteers put together the finishing touches on the quilts, and from there they are delivered by regional coordinators to wounded veterans and active duty National Guard members deployed overseas.

Among the Stonecrest quilters in Woodbury, experience ranges from longtime quilters like Lund and Elizabeth Heaton, to relative newcomers to the craft like Rosemary Otte, who said she picked up quilting about 10 years ago.

"It's a very satisfying recreation," said Otte, who said she's improved her skills with each completed quilt. "You always come out with a product, and people always appreciate it."

For more information on the Minnesota chapters of the Quilts of Valor organization go to www.qovf-um.org

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