By Megan Locke, Fort Campbell Courier staffAugust 26, 2011
FORT CAMPBELL, Ky., Aug. 26, 2011 -- Several Nevada quilters are stitched in friendship with about 80 Fort Campbell children after completing a recent craft project.
It's not uncommon for quilt groups to donate their creations to certain causes or groups throughout the year. This willingness to donate is what sparked the idea to bring smiles to the faces of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 159th Combat Aviation Brigade, 101st Airborne Division Family members.
While it might seem quite a distance from Nevada to Fort Campbell, the two places are connected by a mother-daughter duo, Linda Conlin and Molly Conlin Chivers. Chivers is married to Luke, a Blackhawk pilot with the 159th CAB.
"I was the FRG leader for the HHC, 159th CAB," Chivers explained of the project's origin. "[The quilters] wanted to find some type of project to help out where needed."
While the quilters originally considered providing the wounded warriors or other on post groups with the warm, handcrafted blankets, the recipients ultimately became those with the closest connection to the group.
"We talked and decided that they could make quilts for the kids," Chivers explained.
This project helped many of those crafting the quilts to better understand the needs of service members' Families.
"We realized that one of the largest sacrifices is on the children," Conlin explained.
Fellow quilter Peggy Pollyea agreed.
"I've never had any connection with the military," she said. "This gave me a better appreciation for what these military Families go through."
In order to make the quilts more special for children halfway through the deployment of a parent, each quilter selected a child. Then, Chivers helped collect each child's interests, favorite colors, ages and other tidbits to make the gifts more personalized. Many quilts featured the deployed parent's photo, some even celebrating the parent's profession with a superhero theme.
"We were able to adapt our quilts to the needs of the children," Conlin said. "… My favorite part [was] I felt like I was getting to know these kids."
The project began in January right before the 159th CAB deployed to Afghanistan, and three quilters flew in this past week to personally deliver the creations to about 40 of the expectant children at the Family Resource Center, Sunday. Helen Laughbon accompanied Conlin and Pollyea to Kentucky after Southwest Airlines heard about the story and donated roundtrip tickets.
"They're very excited," Chivers said this past week about the receiving Families. "The quilters have kind of developed a relationship with this child."
Laughbon enjoyed the project because it allowed her to use her talents for good, and it provided the opportunity to bond with a child and provide a small source of comfort.
"I love making things for little boys," she said. "I just kind of fell in love with him immediately."
About 10 different quilt groups got involved in some capacity, with the most participation coming from the Quilting Bees and the Ditch Stitchers, both based in Nevada's Reno/Carson City area.
"We had quilters that were very willing and happy to participate," Conlin said.
"The project got bigger and bigger," Chivers said. "… I just think it gives the kids something tangible while their mom or dad is gone. It's that special memento that they can wrap up in when they are missing their parent."