Quilts for Troops

FISK AND the Addison County Milk and Honey Quilters Guild has completed
six red, white and blue quilts that they are donating to wounded
soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. The quilts are on display
at the Ilsley Library in Middlebury through July.
Independent photo/Trent Campbell

July 16, 2007

By MEGAN JAMES

MIDDLEBURY — Setting aside politics for a moment to pick up needle and
thread, quilters in Addison County found a non-partisan way to support
wounded troops back from Iraq: They collaborated on six homemade
quilts, which they plan to send to soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical
Center in Washington, D.C.

At the suggestion of Charlotte Fisk, the Middlebury Milk and Honey
Quilters’ Guild about a year ago joined a nationwide effort called
Quilts of Valor, which seeks to comfort wounded soldiers with homemade
blankets.

The six finished quilts, now on display in the lobby of Ilsley
Library in Middlebury, are variations on a theme: red, white and blue,
each with an appliquéd purple heart, and small enough to tuck over a
soldier’s lap in a wheelchair. A larger seventh quilt is at the center
of the display and will be raffled off on Labor Day Weekend to cover
the shipping cost of the others.

“The quilts go primarily to the paralyzed soldiers or amputees,”
Fisk said. “We are going to put a label on them that says, ‘With
gratitude, the Middlebury Milk and Honey Quilters.’”

Fisk learned about Quilts of Valor from her friend, Kay Bergquist at
the Rutland Maple Leaf Quilters’ Guild, which has in the past couple of
years donated 50 quilts to Walter Reed.

“It seemed to be a reasonable way to help,” Fisk said. “I was so upset
about the war, and I felt so terribly about all the dreadful injuries.”

Milk and Honey’s quilts are made up of individual saw-tooth and Ohio
star blocks. Members of the guild each contributed a block and Fisk and
Bergquist did the backing and quilting. Fisk estimates at least 30
people participated, including a handful of anonymous quilters she
suspects heard about the project by word-of-mouth.

“There were people who came into the quilting shop in New Haven with
squares, who just said, ‘Give these to Charlotte.’ I have no idea where
three or four of these stars came from, but we gratefully accepted
them.”

For Fisk, the tragedy of war hit home nearly 40 years ago during the
Vietnam war, when her friend and Fuller Brush salesman, Fred, made an
unexpected visit to her home one morning. He came in with shoulders
hunched and his head down.

“I said to him, ‘Fred, what’s wrong?’ And he just looked at me kind
of hollow-eyed… So we sat down at my kitchen table and I got him coffee
and he looked at me and said, ‘Jimmy’s dead.’ That was his son, their
only son. He died on Hamburger Hill, an area they took three times. On
the third time, that’s when this kid — 19 years old — died.”

“There’s something about seeing somebody who’s actually lost someone
like that; I just can’t imagine what it would be like,” she said.

Milk and Honey still has two quilts in the works, but Fisk noted there
is no cutoff date for sending them to Walter Reed. “As long as they
keep fighting in Iraq,” she said, there is a need.

“If this keeps going on forever,” she started, and then stopped. “I
hope we can finally get through this. Soon. Immediately. Yesterday.”


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