Daniel J. Merino, U.S. Army veteran, is wrapped in the quilt that was recently made for and presented to him by the North Olympic Peninsula Quilts of Valor group. (Photo courtesy of Christopher Bates Photography)

Daniel J. Merino, U.S. Army veteran, is wrapped in the quilt that was recently made for and presented to him by the North Olympic Peninsula Quilts of Valor group. (Photo courtesy of Christopher Bates Photography)

Peninsula Quilts of Valor honors veterans

Nominations low this year due to pandemic

PORT TOWNSEND — Although there are fewer requests for quilts this year, the North Olympic Peninsula Quilts of Valor volunteers still made and distributed 32 quilts to veterans on the Peninsula.

The group in years past has conducted several outreach events throughout the year and had presentation ceremonies on Memorial Day and Veterans Day.

The COVID-19 pandemic precautions prompted the group to cancel all of its public events, and present the quilts privately, said Kathryn Bates, team leader.

The group had scheduled a presentation in October, hoping Jefferson County would be in Phase 3 of the state’s Safe Start Washington plan, but the county did not move into Phase 3 and the event was canceled.

The presentation was done privately with the veteran and family members, Bates said.

The lack of public ceremonies has led to a drop in nominations of veterans to receive a quilt. This is the first time in five years that Bates has caught up on distributing quilts, she said.

“I have no requests pending that don’t have quilts assigned,” Bates said. “I think because of the pandemic, and because we haven’t had any public events, people have forgotten about us. They’re worried about other things.

“We are still here, and we are still eager to find veterans.”

Robert Sokol, U.S. Air Force veteran, holds the quilt that was recently made for and presented to him by the North Olympic Peninsula Quilts of Valor group. (Photo courtesy of Christopher Bates Photography)

Robert Sokol, U.S. Air Force veteran, holds the quilt that was recently made for and presented to him by the North Olympic Peninsula Quilts of Valor group. (Photo courtesy of Christopher Bates Photography)

During the past three months, the requests that have been made for the Peninsula group have been for hospice patients through Assured Hospice in Port Angeles, which makes a nomination when a veteran checks in for care, Bates said.

Quilts of Valor is a national nonprofit organization with volunteers spread out in several communities in the United States, and the North Olympic Peninsula group makes quilts for the nominated veterans in Clallam and Jefferson counties, as well as an occasional one at Whidbey Island in Island County, Bates said.

Since 2016, the group, which currently has 33 members, has made about 500 quilts for veterans in the two counties, Bates said.

The roughly twin-sized quilts take about 30 to 60 hours each to make. The cost of material averages $250.

The quilts are free for the veteran, so the group accepts donations for material costs, with contributions from East Jefferson Rotary, American Legion Post 26, Port Townsend Elks, Port Townsend Kiwanis and individual community members, Bates said.

More information on the program and nominations for living veterans can be made online at qovf.org.

Olympic Peninsula quilters who want to volunteer to make quilts can contact Bates at [email protected] or 360-316-9798.

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Jefferson County reporter Zach Jablonski can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 5 or at [email protected].

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