FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- An upcoming workshop seeks to find a new crop of volunteers to help keep wounded warriors and veterans covered.

The first Quilts of Valor Foundation quilting workshop takes place May 18 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Fort Rucker Arts and Crafts Center.

Janice Erdlitz, Fort Rucker DFMWR marketing director, said the workshop is valuable for both the attendees and the wounded warriors who will receive the quilts created by volunteers.

"This workshop provides a valuable service to our wounded warriors, providing them warmth and honor for their sacrifice," she said. "This workshop also provides a teaching opportunity for those wanting to learn how to quilt.

"Skilled quilters provide guidance and instruction in the workshop where participants help piece together a quilt," she added. "The quilts will one day be draped around the shoulders of a wounded warrior -- truly a special keepsake to treasure."

The free workshops are open to everyone ages 16 and older. According to Jacquelyn McKinstry, QOVF Alabama state coordinator, workshops will continue every third Friday as long as interest remains.

"We will continue every third Friday as long as we have people attending," she said. "Originally, I decided to get this started here because we have lots of requests to fill all over the state of Alabama and this program has worked so well in other states with the veterans learning to sew."

According to McKinstry, a total of 23,785 quilts were stitched together by volunteers and awarded to veterans across the United States in 2017.

"Providing workshops like these, where the end result honors our veterans, truly supports MWR's mission - taking care of our Soldiers and families," Erdlitz said.

QOVF volunteers award a quilt to the winner of the Fort Rucker Outdoor Recreation's Spring and Fall Wounded Warrior Hunts. According to Erdlitz, workshop attendees have an opportunity to provide similar rewards for other veterans in the future.

"We hope the participants walk away at the end of the workshop with the pride of knowing their assistance in making the quilt honors a wounded warrior," she said. "What a great way to show the continued support for our veterans that have given so much for the service of our nation."

According to McKinstry, all skill levels are invited and first-time quilters are more than welcome to attend.

"Before attending, you may want to look up, read our stories and watch a video," she said. "Check out what we've been doing. Mentors provide sewing machines (we have several provided by the Arts and Crafts Center), quilt kits, iron, thread, scissors, seam ripper (we don't make the new folks rip the seams out if a mistake happens), we bring the fabric already cut and a pattern we will teach you to follow, anything needed to make your first sewing experience a positive one. We are so happy to have the sewing machines at the Arts and Crafts Center to use during our sew days. If we get more students than machines, the mentors will bring their personal machines to accommodate more students."

McKinstry added that participants need only bring a "want-to-learn attitude and a sense of fun."

"My mentors are ladies and gentlemen from the local quilting guilds, and they are volunteers and I expect everyone to be open to learn what we are teaching -- good, safe, basic sewing and quilting skills. We also teach the 'art of giving back' to others."

The next workshop takes place June 15 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Workshops will take place the third Friday of every month from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Fort Rucker Arts and Crafts Center until further notice.

For more information or to register for the free workshop, call 255-9020.