October 17, 2013
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. - A local quilting group that has been donating quilts to Wounded Warriors for nearly a decade recently came to the attention of FOX 45 news reporter Melinda Roeder. Amazed by the group's commitment to service members and their Families, Roeder decided to share the good news with FOX 45 viewers.
On Oct. 7, Roeder and FOX 45 cameraman Jed Gamber came to the APG South (Edgewood) chapel to document the group members at work and chat with recipients of their handiwork.
Carol Hansen, a retired government civilian, formerly with the U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center, started Quilts for Heroes in 2004. Hansen said the group first met in her home but quickly outgrew her living room. Through the kindness of APG chaplains, she said, the quilters were allowed to meet in the chapel.
"We've been meeting here ever since," she said. "We're grateful to have the support of APG chaplains. They've been so good to us."
Roeder said she found Hansen while researching quilters on the internet. There were similar groups in nearly every state.
"It wasn't until then that I realized quilters existed in our area," she said. She said that after contacting Hansen the more they talked the more impressed she became with the devotion expressed through the love of their art.
"They are so amazing," Roeder said as she admired the completed quilts on display. She said that to her, more important than the quilts themselves, was the energy that went into creating them.
"So many of us have friends or family members who are sick or hurting and we wish we could do more for them. To help in this way, to give this kind of care to a stranger is so amazing."
Quilts for Heroes members chatted casually with Roeder as they worked on their projects; they seemed hardly bothered by Gamber and his camera.
Paulette Jones, a recent ECBC retiree, shared the fact that she was born on APG, and that her parents and her husband once worked on post as well. Retired for only two months and a member for only six, she said the quilters taught her everything she knows.
"They are so helpful and patient," she said. "We've always worked for the Army but with this, I feel like I'm really giving something back to the Soldiers."
At age 79, Dottie Kreutzer is the group's oldest quilter. The proud daughter of a World War I veteran, she said she and her husband moved to Harford County from Baltimore County in 1963. Kreutzer said she is proud to sew, "for those who would give their lives for us."
"I do it in the hope that it will comfort them to know that people are thinking of them and appreciate them," she said.
"Some of us just need to do something," added Merrie Street, a Fallston mom who's "whole family once worked on post."
Street said her son was one of six graduates of Fallston High School to join the Marine Corps in 2006. When the news came that one of the six had fallen she said that though she was glad her son was spared she was distraught over the loss of his classmate.
"My sister thought I needed something to do with myself and Carol [Hansen] gave me the answer," she said.
A non-quilter but devotee of Quilts for Heroes is retired Maj. Gen. Genaro Dellarocco, former commander of the U.S. Army Test and Evaluation Command. Dellarocco learned about the quilters when they presented a quilt to Kelly Keck, a Wounded Warrior and current ATEC government civilian.
Dellarocco said he came out to show his support.
"I like what they do," he said, adding that he hopes to link the group with the Fisher House where they can tend to Soldier's families. "They produce true works of art," he said. "It's my honor to assist selfless patriots like the Quilts for Heroes group."
Installation Chaplains Assistant, Sgt. 1st Class Elijah Mack brought five quilts he received while in working in combat hospitals in Iraq and Afghanistan and while recovering in the former Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
"I just wanted them to know how important these quilts were to the troops," he said. "We always made sure troops heading out had quilts or blankets. They would actually fight over them because they're a piece of America, made with love and care."
He said when he came across the quilters after being stationed here at APG he sought them out to tell them his stories.
"I was very blessed to have one from each deployment," he said. "I started telling them my stories because I wanted to give them a good view. They didn't get to see what happened to the hundreds of quilts they've given away. This completes the stories they don't get to hear."The Quilts for Heroes story is set to run on FOX 45 within the next two weeks. Check the APG News, and the APG website and Facebook site for more information.