The ladies of the Women's Auxillary Association of Monkey Island (WAAMI) can add another project to be proud of to their already long list. On Tuesday and Wednesday, WAAMI sponsored the Camo Quilt community project. Thirty volunteers from Grand Lake, Tulsa and even as far as Overland, Kan. bonded as they sewed, ironed, cut and wrote their way to helping our troops in Afghanistan.
The volunteers met at the Monkey Island Community Center to show support for the troops serving in the Middle East by making 50 camo quilts through the Camo Quilt Project.
"We were looking for a community project. WAAMI decided it would donate the $25 per quilt cost to the project and organize the community to get together and sew," said Kaye Slepka.
"Blue Star Mothers in Vinita will distribute the quilts to the troops in Afghanistan," she said.
Slepka said she saw a story about Project Camo and brought the idea to WAAMI.
They didn't finish all 50 but volunteers are taking some home to finish.
Local businesses and individuals contributed in other ways besides sewing. Vincent Witt made lunch both days for the volunteers. The Summit at Shangri La brought them dessert and Walmart donated all the thread.
"This was such a nice project. I'm glad to be involved in it," said one of the volunteers.
All agreed that one of the most special moments of the two days was when they found out that project volunteers Betty and Joe Savo's son Matthew is serving in Afghanistan. They sewed a special quilt with the American Flag on it and presented it to the couple to give to Matthew.
"This has been a happenin' place the last two days," said Carol Chalupnik.
"It's our one little thing," added Sharon Witt.
According to Slepka, many of the ladies didn't know each other until they were working at the same table. "All of a sudden I hear a bunch of hackling coming from that table over there. I asked if they knew each other and the two ladies working there said 'Yes, we met about 15 minutes ago".
The Camo Quilt Project Story
The first camouflage quilt was designed and made by Linda Wieck in April of 2006. Her son-in-law, Todd, was being deployed to Iraq and asked her to make him a quilt to take along. His specifications were that it be small, made from camouflage cloth, and it needed to have cotton batting.
While Todd was at Camp Shelby, MS for training prior to being deployed, other soldiers in his unit saw the quilt and wanted to buy one. Todd asked Linda if she could make each of them a quilt and they would pay her for them. She scrambled to finish all 48 before they left for Iraq in July of 2006.
After the local newspaper published an article about her work, one of the readers asked Linda to conduct a workshop to train others to make the quilts. The first one day workshop was held in April of 2007 at a local banquet hall and was fol-lowed by 3 additional week-long work-shops. Hundreds of volunteers helped at these workshops. All the money needed for materials and supplies were donated so the quilts could be given to the soldiers free of charge.
Camo Quilt Project states that one of their most-asked questions is, "Doesn't the military provide them with a quilt?" The answer, sadly, is no. Military-issued sleeping bags are bulky and hot and must be carried inside their back-packs. Camo Quilts are popular because they are made from the same camouflage material as the uniforms. That means it can be used in the open, tied to the outside of a soldier's kit, leaving precious room inside for personal items.
Each quilt was packaged with a cool tie and a hand-made card. The card gives information about the volunteer group. Some women took the cards home to handwrite them and each one was signed by all the volunteers (see inset).