Suburban vets will be honored in a ceremony next week in Mount Prospect, but instead of medals, certificates or trophies, they'll receive a more unusual recognition for their service: handmade quilts.
Inspired by a television program that highlighted Quilts of Valor, a national organization that gives patriotic quilts to war vets, a quilting group sponsored by the Mount Prospect Historical Society set out to do the same locally.
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After seeing the show, Mount Prospect resident Barbara Klett rounded up nine other members of Sew Bee It who were willing to buy their own materials and sew one quilt each for veterans.
"They have given up their loved ones to be away, and they're just fighting for us to keep us safe," Sew Bee It member Ginny Curtis said. "They deserve some recognition."
Members were free to make any design they wanted, Klett said, as long as the quilts had one obvious color palette: red, white and blue.
Curtis stuck with something she called basic, sewing a quilt with a large star on the front. It wasn't the first time she's made a "quilt of valor," having previously sewed one for her grandson to remind him of home during his deployment to Afghanistan.
Now, eight months since the women first started sewing, Klett said they are excited the honorees finally will receive the quilts at a ceremony Monday, June 10 at Arlington Heights American Legion Post 208, 121 N. Douglas Ave., in Arlington Heights.
This is the first time the group has done such a project, said Rachel Toeppen, Sew Bee It's founder and leader. She's not sure yet if group members will do it again next year.
But these aren't the only handmade items the group has donated. Since the group was founded in 1997, Toeppen said members have donated quilts to Project Linus, a group that distributes blankets to ill and hospitalized children.
The group also raffles crafts to raise money for the Mount Prospect Historical Society, she said. Curtis added that the group donates all proceeds from the holiday-themed items they make and sell during the holidays every year.