Quilting in Red, White and Blue

When a group of quilters at Hope Lutheran Church in Hubbard Lake decided to make quilts to donate to veterans, they opted for using only red, white and blue fabric. What better way to honor these men and women who served their country than with a gift of a patriotic quilt, said Karen Cates, a member of the group that calls itself The Loving Hands.

“We decided to go patriotic-themed because we knew they were going to the veterans,” said Cates. “They’ve certainly done a lot for us. They don’t really get what they deserve.”

Cates and her husband, Larry, delivered 11 of the quilts to the Saginaw Veterans Hospital in June, where Voluntary Services Chief Jason T. Christianson expressed appreciation for the gift. Cates said he was very thankful to receive the quilts, and shared about how his facility can always use donations, particularly craft items for rehabilitation projects done with patients.

“They are absolutely beautiful quilts,” Christianson later wrote to the quilting group by way of a thank-you letter. “They’re so nice I’m not sure anyone will want to use them as intended, but just hold and admire them.”

Although Christianson received the handmade gift in June, he wanted to wait and present them to patients on the 4th of July, thereby making it all the more patriotic for them.

The Loving Hands group, comprised of roughly 15 women, met on a weekly basis from after Christmas through May to work on the quilts. Not only was the project a mission-based one, but it also was a contest. Once all the quilts were completed, they were numbered and hung at the church, where attendees were invited to vote for their favorite.

After the voting was completed, the quilt garnering the most votes was declared to be one made by Kathy Smith. Hers features emblems from various branches of the military service.

With the quilts completed and judged, one more step still was required before they could be sent off to their intended destination at the Saginaw Veterans Hospital. The pastor at Hope Lutheran conducted a blessing ceremony in front of the congregation before they were taken downstate.

“They were all blessed before they were sent out,” Cates said. “It’s a ceremony our pastor does, praying that the person who receives one of the quilts will be blessed.”

This isn’t the first time the quilting group at the church has made quilts to give away. Members also distribute them through Lutheran Social Services at Christmas time. Some also are sent to a foster care agency in Michigan.

“A quilt then belongs to each child when they are sent out to a foster care family,” Cates said. “They also are given a toy. The church contributes to this as well.”

Quilts also are given to local victims of house fires or to anyone who members hear about perhaps needing a bit of encouragement or an extra touch of kindness.

Cates credits member Vicki Habitz with overseeing the quilting group, which has been going strong at the church for the last seven or eight years. Habitz always is the one to turn to when there are technical questions about the quilting process, she said.

She also noted that quilting remains quite popular in the area, with many local quilters traveling around the state to participate in various quilting-related events. Besides the quilters, a group of women also meet monthly at the church to do other sewing projects.