Betsy Krager enjoys giving back. She found a way to give back and involve her hobby of quilting through the organization, Quilts of Valor.
On its site, Quilts of Valor, a national organization, states: “The mission of the Quilts of Valor Foundation is to cover service members and veterans touched by war with comforting and healing Quilts of Valor.” The group provides quilts created by volunteers to those who served. To receive a quilt, the veteran, or a family or friend, has to submit a request form. Krager then sets up a day and time for a quilt presentation.
Krager’s husband is a Vietnam veteran, and he became her driving force in this venture. Her husband and neighbor were presented with a quilt, and it really touched their hearts.
“They’re (veterans) very appreciative,” Krager said. “Especially the Vietnam veterans. (They have said) this is the first time we’ve been recognized for our service. And when you hear that, you’re like whoa. Fifty years ago, and this is the first time someone said thank you. That’s touching and that happens quite a bit with the Vietnam guys.”
Krager was previously participating in a Quilts of Valor group in Olathe and decided to start another chapter in September 2015. The group focuses on Delta County veterans. The Delta County Quilts of Valor have about 10 regular members plus some that are drop ins. Many of the members of this group are also in the Basket Case Quilt Guild.
The local group pieces together the top of the quilt to form the pattern and provide the backing for each quilt presented. Krager then sends it off to volunteer long armers who put it all together. The latter can be pretty pricey and the national group sets up this aspect. Krager said if they did not have this help, they would not be able to afford to create all the quilts they have.
In the last five years, the group has awarded over 100 quilts. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, quilt presentations have been placed on hold. They currently have 16 on hold and will most likely have another 20 this year.
At times there is a wait list for the quilts but within the month, the group is able to piece one together.
“She’s (Betsy) has been our driving force,” member Jeanne Leser said. “We just get to come sew and visit and have a good time, and she handles all the paperwork. But also it’s a job to mail them out and get them back.”
Every quilt that comes back needs to be binded and receives a label which Leser provides.
Presentations have been done all over Delta County. Some have been in churches, homes and even a park to name a few. Krager thanks them for their service and she explains what a quilt means: comfort, healing and more to the veterans.
There have been some touching presentations, Leser noted. There was one with a father, son and a cousin. Another was a veteran in Paonia who was dying of cancer, Krager recalled. After the vetern passed, the family dog chewed the quilt, and Krager was able to fix it for the family. Veterans are very thankful for their quilts, she noted.
Although Krager said she has been tired, once she sees a veteran and how appreciative they are, she’s reminded why she does this.
“Sometimes you see the veteran tear up, sometimes there’s tears going down their cheeks and you think, ‘wow,’” Krager said, noting it is neat to hear their stories. “I think we take it for granted — or maybe I do — because so often I do the talking and I get in my little routine but you can see the emotion in some of the guys and gals.”
“We have a lot of respect for the sacrifices they’re made for us, and know how important it is and of all people these people seem to be ignored… they need to be honored,” Leser said
Aside from helping the veterans, the group enjoys getting together. The group meets twice a month — the first and third Thursdays.
Everything is purchased by members of the group. From the fabric to the thread, these quilts are donation built. Quilts of Valor need to be specific types of fabric so the group prefers to buy it themselves, and always welcomes donations. They have held fundraisers and take part in the City Market community rewards program.
If you are a veteran or know of a veteran who would like a quilt, please visit qovf.org to learn more about the organization. If you would like to donate, please contact Krager at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also send filled out request forms to Delta County Quilts of Valor, 25611 Starner Loop Road, Cedaredge, CO 81413.