Quilts of Valor

Harvey Shields, left, and his son Jerry Kahklen both received Quilts of Valor that were handmade by members of the Rainy Day Quilters Guild. Photo courtesy of Jean Mackie

The Rainy Day Quilters Guild took its annual quilting show on the road to deliver quilts to local veterans this past month.

Through February and the first week of March, guild members made socially distant visits to the homes of Ketchikan veterans to deliver handmade "Quilts of Valor," which usually would have been presented at an in-person show.

Due to the persisting coronavirus pandemic, the show was canceled, leaving the guild to find a new way to move forward with their efforts to deliver Quilts of Valor to veterans.

"We (the guild) discussed it and decided we really didn't want to not award any quilts because we have a fairly large list," Rainy Day Quilters Guild member Jean Mackie said in a Friday interview with the Daily News, noting that the group did not want to "get behind" on their list.

"Instead," Mackie said, "we elected to do them as in-home awards."

And so Mackie and other members of the guild donned face masks and arranged visits to the homes of local veterans throughout February and the first week of March, delivering 12 total quilts.

"What it's about, mainly, it's a tangible way of saying thank you to the veterans for serving their country," Mackie explained.

The effort is linked to the National Quilters Association and the National Quilt of Valor Association, which operate at a national level.

The Rainy Day Quilters Guild have been participating as they seek to award quilts to as many local veterans as possible.

Since the local group began the project four years ago, the guild — which is 70 members strong— have awarded 92 quilts to local veterans, and to more than 1,000 nationally.

The guild relies on word of mouth to find veterans to present with a handmade quilt, and requires that a form be completed to provide information, such as how long a veteran served and in what branch of the military.

A Quilt of Valor has to be given directly to the veteran, according to Mackie.

"The quilts are not given as a gift, they are given as an award," she said. "And they are not to be sold or given away, they are being awarded to that veteran."

The quilts range in proportions, but are typically lap-sized and done in red, blue and white as a symbol of patriotism.

"It's a very gratifying way for us to be able to say thank you to the veterans and in some cases ... some of them who have never been thanked, it's long overdue," Mackie said. "What I have found is that it's very well received, the veterans are all very appreciative of it and we've all found it to be very gratifying to be able to do this."

Mackie said that delivering the quilts directly to the veterans — instead of during a group show — worked out "very well."

"It actually worked out better for some of the veterans," she said, noting that some people don't like being in front of crowds.