Local quilters keeping soldiers warm

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Kayla Bunge
January 12, 2008
— Despite near-freezing temperatures and a light snow that fell across Baghdad early Friday, local soldiers were covered.

Hundreds of camouflage quilts have found their way into the hands of soldiers since last fall, when the ladies of American Legion Auxiliary Unit 24 spearheaded a community effort to keep local servicemen and women warm.

But still more soldiers need the comfort and protection of a quilt from home.

“How can you say no to a serviceman?” said Barbara Braden, president of the auxiliary.

The auxiliary is feverishly sewing 100 more quilts to send to local soldiers overseas. Every local soldier who requests a quilt receives more than one, so not only are they covered, but so are their comrades.

Designed by a soldier, each quilt is made of government-approved tear-proof camouflage fabric and is easily transportable. Braden said the sewing isn’t complicated, but it takes about four hours per quilt.

“Anybody who can sew can do this,” she said.

The auxiliary also is collecting items to include in care packages, which will be sent along with the quilts.

Braden heard about an Army mother’s quilt-making efforts in July while attending the state convention. Linda Wieck of Plymouth made a quilt for her son-in-law, and when other soldiers saw it, they requested a quilt of their own. Wieck turned to the American Legion.

“I thought, ‘It sounds like something we could do,’” Braden said.

She set to work soliciting donations from local businesses to cover the cost of materials and shipping. She rounded up dozens of volunteers, who worked long hours to sew 200 quilts, which were sent in early November.

And when a local soldier requested 100 more quilts in mid-December, the auxiliary got back to work.

“I was surprised when he came back and requested a hundred more, but how can you say no?” Braden said.

The Lake Geneva unit is the first American Legion Auxiliary unit in the nation to undertake this project.

"It just took off so well,” said Mary Rose Long, a member of the auxiliary. “It’s something people in the area could work on.”

The auxiliary has received about $7,000 in donations from local individuals and businesses, and volunteers from Lake Geneva and the surrounding communities have stepped up.

“I get goose bumps thinking about it,” Braden said. “And getting those letters and postcards back (from soldiers overseas) is just icing on the cake.”


To make a donation, send a check payable to American Legion Auxiliary Unit 24 to Barbara Braden, 1175 S. Lake Shore Drive, Lake Geneva, WI 53145. Write “quilt” in the memo line.

Those interested in sewing can call American Legion Post 24 at (262) 248-9767 or Barbara Braden at (262) 248-3394.

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