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Clayton quilters sending sewn comfort to soldiers

By Daniel Silliman

dsilliman@news-daily.com

In the fellowship hall of Morrow's First United Methodist Church, about 20 women gathered to cut colored fabric, sew squares, talk about quilting, and support America's soldiers.

At the Tara Quilt Guild, during Monday's monthly meeting, three handmade quilts were packaged and prepared to be shipped to wounded soldiers at a hospital in an Iraqi war zone.

The guild has sent 10 quilts to wounded soldiers serving in Iraq, and plans to send more.

"I put a lot of thought into it," said Lou Brackett, a quilter and an assistant professor at Clayton State University. "I put a lot of effort into it, and I just hope whoever gets it likes it. We do appreciate what they're doing."

The quilts -- mostly patriotic themed, in red, white and blue fabrics -- are being sent to the soldiers through the "Quilts of Valor" project, founded by 11 women and two men who believe that quilts are supportive and healing. The foundation has orchestrated delivering more than 15,000 quilts to serve some of the more than 29,000 U.S. soldiers wounded since the war in Iraq began in 2003.

Brackett said she personally plans to make a few more quilts for the wounded soldiers, and send them along to the chaplains in Iraq.

"I don't how long they're going to be over there," she said. "It's starting to look like forever ... but they've left a lot behind. They've left family behind, and it's comforting for them to know that someone cares for them."

In an e-mail sent to the Tara Quilt Guild by a nurse working to distribute the quilts at an Iraq hospital, the quilters were assured that a recent gift was received.

"I do not know what fate holds for this severely injured soldier," the Army nurse wrote, "but you made sure and we made sure he was not forgotten, near or far. Your kindness has not gone unnoticed and unappreciated."

The one red, white and blue quilt, which Brackett packaged for the mail on Monday night, took her six to eight weeks to make, she said.

In previous years, the quilters have worked on other service projects, making quilts for Project Linus, for children at Children's Hospital of Atlanta at Egleston, and also for prematurely born babies at Southern Regional Medical Center, and the Securus House, a shelter for victims of family violence.

The Tara Quilt Guild of Clayton County meets on the second Monday of each month, at 7 p.m., at the Morrow First United Methodist Church, 5985 North Main Street. For more information about the guild, e-mail Brackett at loubrackett@clayton.edu.