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Quilts of Valour warm hugs for Armed Forces members

webQOV 5307
Hug blocks from across Canada make up this quilt, displayed by Christine Orr (left) and Kathy Handford.

ELK POINT – Quilts of Valour Canada, or QPVC, is a society founded by Lezley Zwaal of Edmonton back in 2006 when she presented quilts to three Canadian Armed Forces members “who came home badly damaged” and were recovering in hospital, QOVC Edmonton representative Christine Orr told a group of quilting enthusiasts at a presentation at Sew Heavenly Quilting in Elk Point last week.

Those quilts were Zwaal’s way of saying ‘thank you’ and giving the injured men some comfort, but meeting them and hearing their stories had such an impact on her that her kindness grew into a movement involving quilters from coast to coast, and that became a registered charity in 2009. Over the years, volunteer quilters have completed 13,973 quilts to the last update of the QOVC website, with the organization setting a goal of presenting 20,000 quilts by the endof 2020.

While most of those quilts go to CAF members suffering the results of physical and/or unseen injuries, some also go to the spouses or parents left behind by those who do not survive.Orr is a 30-year CAF veteran, and was herself given a quilt, and newly retired, asked how she could get on board with the charity.

“I am very proud of what we do,” she told the group. Orr told the quilters that a display of Quilts of Valour would be part of next year’s Quilt Canada show in Edmonton, June 18 to 20 at the Edmonton Convention Centre.

She and Elk Point quilter Kathy Handford displayed a number of finished quilts, each of them with a numbered Quilt of Valour label, stating “Handmade with love, respect and gratitude for your sacrifice to Canada. May the hugs stitched into this quilt give you comfort, strength and love.” The label also includes the names of the recipient and quilt maker and the date the quilt is presented.

The names of recipients become part of a registry.

“We couldn’t do this without volunteers. Volunteers make the world go round,” Orr said. The veterans who receive quilts are “very thankful, especially older veterans.”

One of the quilts Orr brought with her was presented to peacetime veteran Zane Sheplawy, with his son accepting on his behalf.