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Quilts
Women from Harvest Church show quilts they have sewn for patients at an armed forces hospital.

The Sew ’n Sews have always given back to the community.

The quilting group, which meets Monday evenings at Harvest Church, is now donating more than 15 quilts to the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md.

“They’re theirs to keep for serving our country,” quilter Sheila Jeanotte said.

Jeanotte, who finished her teaching career as the head of the curriculum department at the medical center, organized the donation when the call went out for a military connection.

“I raised my hand and said, ‘I know where we can send them,’ ” she said.

In previous years, the Sew ’n Sews have made donations to the Women’s and Family Shelter, local nursing homes and, most recently, to Harvest Church. The church raffled off the quilts and earned $2,000, which was used to buy disposable blankets for local homeless people.

“We do it once or twice a year. We pick someone or something to just give back to the community,” Jeanotte said. “Otherwise, the rest of the year, we work on our own projects.”

The quilts that are heading to the medical center are a group project. Each individual quilter made six strips, 12 inches deep by 62 1/2 inches wide.

“Then we traded,” said Sew ’n Sews member Delia Richlen. “I got to take six strips, one of mine and five others, and then sewed them together.”

The theme for the quilts is, of course, patriotic.

“They’re a rainbow of colors,” Richlen said. “Mostly red, white and blue.”

And no two are alike.

“That’s half the fun,” Jeanotte said. “Even though some of us get the same rows, we put it together different.

“Some people will put dividers between the rows. Some will just put the rows together and put borders on the outside. It’s always different.”

The quilts will be shipped to Jeanotte’s contact in Bethesda during the first week of May so they can be donated to members of the armed forces at the medical center in mid-May.

Jeanotte’s quilt is going to a friend she made while working at the medical center, a Vietnam veteran named Jerral Benkhe, who serves as the dean of educational programs, academics and governance. The rest will be donated to Iraq and Afghanistan vets.

“This is just very close to my heart,” she said. “I think we need to give back to our soldiers who are fighting for us.”

Contact Cathy Ulrich at culrich@billingsgazette.com or 657-1241.

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