Women’s Club of Indian River adopts Quilts of Valor mission

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Women’s Club of Indian River member Muriel Pfeiffer writes a message during the club’s Quilts of Valor fundraiser held Tuesday at the Blue Water Grill. (Sussex County Post/Glenn Rolfe).

MILLSBORO – From little acorns grow big oaks.

The Women’s Club of Indian River isn’t the largest General Federation of Women’s Club or the oldest.

But with close to 30 members, the Indian River club based in the greater Millsboro/Long Neck area has embarked on a huge patriotic mission to salute America’s military veterans – block by block, piece by piece.

The Women’s Club of Indian River is currently in its first year taking part in Quilts of Valor, a nonprofit national grassroots community service effort whose founding roots were sewn in Seaford, Delaware.

In 2003, Blue Star mother Catherine Roberts – inspired by her son Nathaniel’s year-long deployment in Iraq – launched the Quilts of Valor Foundation from the sewing room in her Seaford home. Her mission was to see that soldiers returning to America were welcomed home with love and gratitude. It has since spread across the nation.

Motivated last fall from a presentation by Lenny Truitt of the Serendipity Quilt Shop in Dagsboro, the GFWC-Women’s Club Indian River embarked on its quilt-making mission.

“This was adopted as one of our projects,” said Indian River club member Suzanne Worrall. “The mission of the foundation is to cover service members and veterans touched by war with comforting and healing Quilts of Valor. Due to our proximity to Dover Air Force Base, through which all of ‘The Fallen’ are returned, QOV is particularly active in this area.”

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Erika Ludwig, a server at the Blue Water Grill in Millsboro, signs a block for quilt that will be made by the GFWC-Women’s Club of Indian River. (Sussex County Post/Glenn Rolfe).

Ms. Worrall has facilitated two “sew-ins” – on back-to-back days, first in January and most recently in late April.

The community center at her Plantation Lakes residence serves as a quilt-making base. It’s affectionately known as the Little Quilts of Valor Sweatshop.

“People put as much or as little time in as they want,” said Ms. Worrall.

Sewing skill is not required. “A child could do it,” said Ms. Worrall, noting “helpers” are on hand to assist “beginners.”

Quilt-making starts with simple 9-inch blocks, featuring patriotic red, white and blue stripes, and other patterns. The blocks become pieces which in turn are assembled by a sub-group. Then, volunteer long-armer Skip Claiborne completes the quilting.

“We made him an ‘honorary’ member,” said Ms. Worrall.

QOV’s are stitched with love, prayers and comforting thoughts.

Finished quilts are sent to QOV National.

“We don’t make any decision on where it goes,” Ms. Worrall said.

Combat troops wounded or touched by war are awarded quilts as tokens of appreciation, with sincere thanks for their “service, sacrifice and valor.”

“It is just such an important commitment they make, the least we can do is make them feel comfortable,” said Sandy Roberts, Vice President of Sussex County’s eight GFWC clubs.

Ms. Worrall is quick to point out that there are other area organizations involved in Quilts of Valor, including one in neighboring Dagsboro. “Serendipity is a big organization,” she said. “What we are doing is small in comparison to what they do.”

On April 28, the Blue Water Grill in downtown Millsboro was the venue for a day-long fundraiser supporting the Women’s Club of Indian River and its QOV effort. Proceeds will support the club’s ongoing effort.

Formed in friendship and dedicated to charitable, civic and educational purposes, the Women’s Club of Indian River is a member of the Delaware State Federation of Women’s Cubs and the GFWC, the largest non-denominational, non-partisan international service organization of volunteer women.

Another of the Indian River club’s projects is the Long Neck Elementary School Mentoring Program. Women’s Club of Indian River members Muriel Pfeiffer and Judy Kirkey, both past presidents of the club, have been with the mentoring program in its seven years of existence.

“We were the start-up team for the Indian River Club,” said Ms. Pfeiffer.

Mentors meet with students one-on-one for about 50 minutes once a week during the school year. Meetings can include but are not totally exclusive to school work.

“You are their friend,” said Ms. Kirkey. “You listen to the child.”

The Indian River club’s monthly meetings are held on the second Monday at 9:30 a.m. at the Indian River Yacht Club in Millsboro.

For more information on the Women’s Club of Indian River, contact Judy Kirkey at 231-8096.

Anyone interested in joining the QOV effort may call Ms. Worrall at 908-638-8844.

For Additional information about the Quilts of Valor can be found at www.qovf.org.

News Editor Glenn Rolfe can be reached at grolfe@newszap.com

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