(Published Jan. 26, 2007, 9:38 a.m.)
Despite being surrounded by desert sands, soldiers in Iraq face plenty of cold nights. When one of them gets a quilt from home, they're sincerely grateful.
Barbara Braden, president of American Legion Auxiliary Unit 24 in Lake Geneva, heard about the need for quilts when attending the state convention of American Legion Auxiliaries in July.
She became determined to organize volunteers in Lake Geneva to help, and the "American Legion Auxiliary Sponsoring a Community Effort" was initiated.
Braden ordered 400 yards of material through Linda Wyatt, who became Barbara's mentor, and volunteers have been measuring, cutting and sewing at the Legion Hall at 735 Henry St., Lake Geneva since Oct. 28.
Work starts as early as 8:30 a.m. and continues until 8 p.m. Braden stays most of that time while others come and go as their busy schedules allow, even taking quilts home to continue their work
They've been working seven days a week and will continue until all 200 quilts are finished. So far more than 50 adults and 30 students have worked on the quilts. Volunteers are still welcome to join in this worthy project.
Some place cotton batting between two pieces of camouflage-decorated fabric.
Another set of workers draws lines on the fabric, which is then ready for sewing machine operators. Using a long metal straight edge, other workers trim the stitched quilts in preparation for the binding, which is done by yet another set of workers.
A cloth tie is wrapped around each finished quilt so it can be attached to a soldier's backpack.
This scene has also been repeated at two Lake Geneva schools. At the middle school, teen-agers worked on seven quilts after school with Diane Roth. Consumer ed students at Badger High, under the direction of DeeDee Giovingo, worked on 16 quilts.
Rose Wenger, the state president of the American Legion Auxiliary, along with State Rep. Tom Lothian, and State Sen. Neal Kedzie, have spent some time working at the Legion hall.
The cost of sending 16 quilts overseas is $35. The first package was expected to be shipped Saturday, Nov. 10 with the help of Grace Paytech, whose son is a rescue helicopter pilot.
Braden also sought support from the Lake Geneva business community.
"The response was phenomenal," she said.
In addition to cash donations, seven businesses have provided lunches for the volunteers.
The quilts will go to local service men and women. Two brothers, Daniel and James Zientec, Ryan Heller and two young men from Pell Lake will be among the recipients of quilts. Shannon Weed, a junior at Badger High, is proud to be involved because her step-brother, Sean Reets, is serving in the Navy.
Checks to help cover the cost of shipping can be made out to the American Legion Auxiliary Unit 24 and sent to:
1175 S. Lake Shore Drive
Lake Geneva, WI 53147
Content may not be published, broadcast, re-distributed or re-written.