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Quilters come together for wounded troops

Wilma Hamm sews quilt strips together. -
Wilma Hamm sews quilt strips together.
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STANWOOD Members of the Stanwood-Camano Hero Quilters have already completed 53 quilts for wounded veterans and they want Arlington and Smokey Point residents to help them complete even more.
Aunt Marys Quilt Shop, located at 3323 169th Place NE in Smokey Point, is hosting the group for American Hero Quilts Aug. 11 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Sharon Szekely of Stanwood, who coordinates the groups efforts, was inspired to start quilting for the troops when her husband, an Air Force reservist, was reactivated in 2003.
When he was there, I started to think about how lucky Id be when he came back home in one piece, Szekely said. When he came back from the Middle East, I started sending patriotic quilts off to Walter Reed.
Szekely found out about the America Hero Quilts group through a machine quilting conference in Tacoma last fall. American Hero Quilts focuses on injured troops from Washington state, returning from war to Madigan Army Medical Hospital at Ft. Lewis, the Harborview Medical Center at the University of Washington and the VA Hospital in Seattle.
As the numbers of casualties and wounded mount, the need is greater than ever, Szekely said. Weve finished 53 quilts since our group started in January, but America Hero Quilts gives out hundreds of quilts a month.
Although quilting sessions such as their July 21 meeting at the Stanwood Senior Center typically attract half a dozen members, Szekely credits quilters throughout Stanwood, Everett, Arlington and Marysville with keeping the group going, especially when the nearly-completed quilts need to be sent to quilting machines to be finished.
Those who have fabrics donate to those who dont, Szekely said.
Julie Baker of Camano Island has a husband who was in Vietnam, but her connection to the groups mission is much more current.
I hadnt realized how many troops were coming home injured, until I heard that American Hero Quilts hands out at least 100 quilts each month, said Baker, whos currently on her ninth quilt. I was so far removed from it before, because nobody I knew was there.
Szekely noted that food would be made available for quilters Aug. 11, and that the group could find tasks for nearly any set of skills. She encouraged those with questions to call her at 360-387-4800. The American Hero Quilts Web site is located at www.americanheroquilts.com.

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