Dedicated volunteers craft quilts for vets

By Kirk Boxleitner
Posted 1/31/24



Over the course of seven hours on Saturday, Jan. 27, roughly a dozen members of the North Olympic Peninsula Quilts of Valor worked with close to 30 yards of fabric in the …

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Dedicated volunteers craft quilts for vets




Over the course of seven hours on Saturday, Jan. 27, roughly a dozen members of the North Olympic Peninsula Quilts of Valor worked with close to 30 yards of fabric in the Marvin G. Shields Memorial American Legion Post 26 hall in downtown Port Townsend, to ensure that area veterans would feel embraced by warmth.

Kathey Bates, who heads up the local chapter’s efforts, informed The Leader that her group provided 48 quilts to vets last year, thereby fulfilling all the requests they’d received for 2023.

“We even made four for Colfax and two for Skagit Valley, which are two new groups of Quilts of Valor that started last year,” Bates said. “As of today, we’ve got five pending awardees. The daughter of one of our members is due a quilt, but she lives in Arizona. She was supposed to visit her mom in June, but her leave got canceled.”

Bates regards it as a priority to provide veterans with quilts that are not only well-made, but also furnished promptly, since the nationwide Quilts of Valor organization tracks the turnaround time for delivery of quilts.

“They understandably want us all to be quick about responding to requests,” Bates said. “We’ve never made any veterans wait more than a few weeks due to a lack of promptness on our part. Of course, there are the folks who prefer to receive their quilts during the Veterans Day ceremonies here in the Legion Hall, so we’ll wait until then for those folks.”

On the flip side, Bates noted that her quilters have worked within days to fill orders from residents of assisted living, elder care and hospice facilities, as far off as Sequim.

“We delivered 16 quilts in one day to (Trustwell Living at) Sinclair Place,” Bates said. “This year alone, we’ve delivered eight quilts to one of the memory care facilities in Sequim.”

Bates recognizes that the need for prompt delivery of such quilts is especially imperative to those in hospice, because “so many folks are waiting to enter hospice until the absolute last minute,” which means they’re likely to have shorter stays in hospice before their passing.

“One veteran in hospice, a Port Townsend man, his daughter had called us up,” Bates said. “His adult children, and what looked to be his grandchildren, were there when we arrived. The younger kids helped pull the quilt over him, and even though he’d been dealing with dementia, he saluted when I read the proclamation. I heard from his family that he died the very next day.”

Most Quilts of Valor members are at least partially motivated by their own loved ones who have served, whether they belong to elder or younger generations, although at least two of the Jan. 27 crew, Bates and Paula Van Der Heul, were Navy veterans themselves.

The North Olympic Peninsula Quilts of Valor kept on chugging along through COVID, albeit while taking all the necessary precautions. To hear Bates tell it, they’ve been met with grateful tears even from those who have plenty of years left ahead of them, and who have contributed to their communities beyond their military service, as with one gentleman who helped maintain a village of tiny houses.

For more information, contact Bates via email at