PAWLEYS ISLAND—Quilting is more than just a hobby for one group of local grannies.
The Beachlovin’ Grannies of the Carolinas — a quilting group based out of Precious Blood of Christ Church — sends the blankets they make to wounded soldiers, pouring love and prayer into every stitch.
The women recently finished their 400th quilt, which will be sent in a package to injured U.S. troops in Germany.
Judy Modica began quilting with the group a few years ago, but the real impact of the work didn’t sink in until a disabled soldier recently approached her in a restaurant. He thanked her for what he called his magic quilt, which comforted him while he was in pain after an explosive blew him out of his vehicle during his deployment.
“He left me flabbergasted and in tears,” Modica said. “In my spare time, I make a quilt and he’s over there fighting, and he’s thanking me? I just couldn’t fathom it.”
Modica and the approximately two dozen other members of The Beachlovin’ Grannies make the quilts to express their gratitude for the sacrifices soldiers have made.
“Our military people are just very, very special to my heart. I think all the women who make these quilts feel that way,” said Linda Quinn.
The latest batch of 25 quilts will go to soldiers with traumatic brain injuries or post-traumatic stress disorder being treated at the U.S. Army’s Traumatic Brain Injury Clinic in Bamberg, Germany. The Beachlovin’ Grannies organizer Helen Faulstich mails them to Liz Petty, a quilter whose husband is a psychologist at the clinic.
The local group is part of a nationwide effort called Quilts of Valor. Soldiers who receive them may have physical or emotional wounds, Petty wrote in an e-mail.
“The mission of the Quilts of Valor Foundation initially covered military members who were wounded in war,” Petty said. “The mission has recently been expanded to include any military member who has been touched by war. I truly believe that the change in mission was a God-send. With the high suicide rate for returning service members and veterans, I feel that the QOV Foundation can now reach out to military members who have no physical injuries, but are bleeding out emotionally.”
The organization started in 2003 when a Delaware woman began making blankets for soldiers after her son was sent to Iraq. According to the foundation’s website, www.qovf.org, 67 groups have made more than 28,000 quilts for military men and women.
Faulstich started the Pawleys Island group in 2005. The women use patriotic red, white and blue fabrics donated by church members and businesses, or paid for out of their pockets.
They spend many hours sewing quilt tops with intricate patterns of squares and stars. The finished tops go to Brunswick County, N.C., where the lining and backs are attached using a longarm quilting machine. Then the blankets are returned and finished by hand with tiny stitches.
Father Patrick J. Stenson, administrator of Precious Blood of Christ, blesses the quilts, and they’re washed, labeled and packed into presentation cases before being shipped off. Each quilt comes with a unique thank-you card crafted by a local couple.
Faulstich sends the quilts to their destinations, wherever they are needed. Shipments have gone to Walter Reed Army Medical Center and to soldiers in North Carolina, Vermont, California and Tennessee.
Faulstich recently sent some to an event in Nashville, and she heard there wasn’t a dry eye in the room when they were distributed.
“A lot of these guys and gals feel like, ‘Who cares? I’ve done that, I’ve been there. I’ve bled or I’m suffering, and nobody really cares,’” she said.
To receive such a token of appreciation means a lot to the soldiers, Faulstich said.
“As our quilts say on the back, it’s from many hearts and hands and that’s true,” she said.
Anyone can contribute to the group by donating fabric or making a quilt top. Call Faulstich at (843) 235-2713.