“Quilts of Valor is an organization of quilters around the world who make quilts to offer comfort to veterans, active duty and honorably discharged; to help them heal, and to let them know others are thinking about them,” said Patty Ozga, contact person of the Stars Over Texas Quilts of Valor. “My dad was in the military; he is Navy, retired. We traveled all throughout the United States,” she added. So she understands what it is like to be on the move, feeling far from familiar things, and in need of comfort. She also discovered along the way, that putting together fabric pieces of different shapes, sizes, colors and patterns was a delightful way to spend her time, express her creativity and bring beauty and joy to others. Sewing for current and former service members “is just something near and dear to my heart, and that furthers my quilting desire,” she said.
Quilts of Valor (QOV) began in 2003, when founder Catherine Roberts, whose son was deployed in Iraq, dreamed about a despairing soldier whose countenance was lifted when he was wrapped in a quilt of healing and hope. “She sent him a quilt, and his buddies wanted one. That’s how it got started,” Patty said. The first QOV was awarded in November of 2003, at Walter Reed Medical Center, to a soldier from Minnesota who lost his leg in Iraq. The following year, 100,000 quilts were awarded. “Quilts of Valor have been awarded across the States, and in medical facilities and bases around the world,” Patty added. This year by Memorial Day, the quilters will have awarded more than 302,000 quilts to service members and veterans.
“I’ve been quilting since 1993, and belong to the Dallas guild, one in Austin, Georgetown, Liberty Hill, all throughout Texas… I joined my first Quilts of Valor group when I was in Lincoln, Nebraska, and after we moved to Texas, in 2019, my sister and I started one here, Stars Over Texas,” Patty said. “There are easily 200 women from these guilds who have pieced and made quilts to donate.”
Patty’s in-home collection of fabrics.
A project of this magnitude requires many hands. “A lot of people have donated red, white and blue fabric, and if you looked in my closet you’d see I have over 170 bolts of different kinds. I recently got some from a Kansas lady who sent some to us. We go out and buy our own fabric too,” Patty said as she gestured toward the shelves that line an entire wall. “Quilts can be any color and any style. I personally like the red, white and blue. It speaks to me. And when given the choice, most veterans pick the red, white and blue,” Patty said. “It’s recommended that we make quilts at least 55”x65”, or 72”x90”. My personal ones measure 60”X80” or 72”x90”.” Since 2019, Stars Over Texas has awarded 57 quilts. “I don’t think I’ve ever done two with the same pattern. I make one and I’m on to something new,” Patty said. That makes each quilt unique, just like each of its honored recipients.
“We can always use donations of money, fabric and batting,” Patty said. “Batting is not cheap. Our quilters quilt at no cost, our binders bind at no cost, and our makers make at no cost. But the quilts are free to the recipient. We tell them, ‘You deserve this. You paid the price when you enlisted.’” QOV accepts donations of money, time and materials. Volunteers can assist with purchasing, cutting, piecing, sewing, and pressing fabrics, making quilting kits and quilt tops, hosting quilting bees at quilt shops, craft rooms, homes, community centers and churches; recommending qualified recipients, and assisting with awards ceremonies. Quilters can sew on their own, or join a QOV group. Visit the QOV website to find or start a group in your area.
“I am the QOV contact person in the guilds I belong to. I go to a lot of meetings. When we get together, I ask for donations, I ask for volunteers to make quilts and award quilts. I make kits to hand out, and I coordinate various people to do various jobs to get a completed quilt along the way. Each award presentation is special. There are often a lot of tears shed. They evoke a lot of emotions. I very rarely get through a presentation without crying,” Patty said. She has made presentations one-on-one and in groups, in civic halls, homes, parks, restaurants, at a Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association rally, and to a den leader at a Boy Scout meeting. “I’ve learned that people don’t like to step forward and acknowledge their service, whereas we want to acknowledge you for your service. So go online and nominate yourself or someone you know to be wrapped in warmth and comfort. If you live in an area where there is not a group, they will get someone to come and award it. It doesn’t matter if there is a chapter there or not. We feel the highest civil honor is a Quilt of Valor. We want the recipients to know they are appreciated.”