Quilts of Valor coordinator Theresa Perrault presents Vangle Christoff with a quilt and certificate.
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Around a dozen veterans were enfolded in patriotic quilts on Saturday made by quilters from Massachusetts and beyond.
The presentations at Richard A. Reuther Post 152 American Legion included a certificate of appreciation for each veteran's service and a unique handmade quilt and pillow case to store it.
"We want you to use the quilt," said Theresa Perreault of Spencer, state coordinator for the national Quilts of Valor Foundation. "Don't put it in the closet."
The quilts offered a variety of patterns and fabrics but with an overarching red, white and blue color scheme. There were stars and flags, polka dots and stripes, and fireworks and Red Sox.
Perrault was aided by her friend Jeanne Perron and Post Vice Commander Mary Angelo Roberts.
The program was founded in 2003 by Catherine Roberts, whose son was serving in Iraq, and originally focused on servicemen and women engaged in Iraq and Afghanistan. That was later expanded to anyone who served in the military, whether or not in direct combat positions but who have been "touched by war" in other ways.
"As we award these Quilts of Valor, let us do so not with judgment but with trust — trust that these veterans have been 'touched by war,'" Perreault told the group gathered on the post home's lawn. "Those who wear or have worn the uniform are, without question, the most profoundly affected."
Quilts were seen as both an expression of psychological comfort and of physical practical use. She said quilts had been used to wrap wounded soldiers on their way to medical facilities.
Among those recognized was 97-year-old Frank Scalise, a Korean War veteran, and 92-year-old Vangle Christoff, who also accepted a quilt on behalf of his wife, Joan.
Christoff joined the Marines in 1950 and became a combat photographer, joking that his family had wanted him to join the Air Force "but I said no, I can swim better and I can fly."
One brother served in World War II and another in Korea; his wife had served in the Army nearly a decade after him.
"We had our time and when I want to thank everybody for thinking of us," he said. "I appreciate that very much."
Perreault is a longtime quilter who became involved in the program about 10 years ago. All the quilts are donated, with some coming from six groups in Massachusetts or from quilting guilds around the country, or from individuals.
The pandemic has pumped up the number of quilts available because so many people were home sewing, Perreault said, noting one woman in Townsend donated 10 quilts and a group in Minnesota sent a half-dozen.
Over the past 18 years, the organization has presented 278,847 Quilts of Valor.
Perreault said the group will present quilts in person or send them to family or the individual
"I've done them everywhere. I've done them in bars, I've done them in swimming pools, I've done them in garages, barbecues, I've done them in churches, as some of you know, I do them at the cemetery," she said. "I want you to know that I appreciate you and that the Quilts of Valor and people in this nation do appreciate what you've done, I want you to know we think of you all the time.
"Today's world is changing so rapidly, but it's very hard to keep up, and we would like to get as many vets as we can."
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