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Omaha's Quilts of Valor Chapter comforting, honoring vets and military members: 'We want you to feel the love'

Posted at 7:02 PM, May 09, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-10 09:33:04-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Catherine Roberts founded the Quilts of Valor Foundation in 2003. It’s a non-profit that awards specialized quilts to military members and veterans who have been touched by war.

The quilt is made to help them heal and thank them for their service and sacrifice.

In that time nearly 350,000 quilts have been awarded through more than 800 chapters across the country.

Omaha’s chapter started in 2014.

"We started off kind of slow,” Chapter Leader Carol Coniglio said. “When they first started, they had like five members."

That’s far from the case today.

"I didn't count how many chairs we got but we usually fill them,” member Billie Leazenby said. “Sometimes there's people standing."

The Quilts of Valor Omaha Chapter now has around 75 members. All focused on presenting each honoree with a quilt that is literally one of a kind — and made for a purpose.

"Our goal is just to thank them for their service. The quilt is not a charity quilt — we want it to be like an heirloom for them,” Coniglio said.

"I really am behind the whole purpose of getting the recognition to a lot of folks who never got it after they served," member, and Air Force veteran, Bill Robinson said.

While each is unique, what they symbolize is identical.

“The top layer consists of the many fabrics and colors that represent all the different people that we are, the uniqueness of our country and all the different cultures,” Leazenby said. “The middle is the batting that represents warmth and comfort that we hope to offer them.”

“The backing is the strength. The strength of the individual, the strength of their families, our country. And the stitches represent the love that puts it all together."

The production of the quilts requires many steps, and hands, taking between two to three months to complete.

Each must be a specific size, have an official label with information on the recipient and creators, and be awarded at a presentation.

"There's very few presentations that we do that we don't have tears,” Coniglio said.

Those tears have been shared with approximately 500 local military members and veterans touched by war.

"You can see it in their expressions, and their family members are just overwhelmed with gratitude — and that somebody thought about them,” Robinson said. “It brings it home."

"When we build these quilts and say thank you with them you can see how it helps,” Leazenby said with tears in her eyes. “It never can cure it, but it helps."

Helping provide comfort and recognition to those who earned it.

"We want you to use it, we want you to feel the love that was sent with it," Coniglio said.

"Don't count sheep. If you're trying to sleep and you're having a tough time, count how many stitches are in that quilt,” Leazenby choked up. “Because each one represents the love we have for you. It's countless."

Leazenby also serves as a speaker and presenter for the group, which are a couple of the many roles people can sign up to volunteer for.

She met a recent recipient and revealed that she the creator of the quilt-top made just for him.

"And his response back to me just makes me want to cry. He said to me, 'I'll cherish it forever.' It's just like — wow."

Moments that Leazenby and the chapter cherish forever, too.

They encourage others to nominate someone they know who has been touched by war.

Readers can do that, and learn more about the federation, by clicking here.

The chapter is also looking for more volunteers. The group says they are more than willing to teach beginners how to sew, and that there are plenty of opportunities to volunteer outside of sewing.

Reach out to the chapter by sending an email to:

Another option is to findthe group's Facebook Page by clicking here.

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