Sewing for Soldiers

SEWING FOR SOLDIERS  —Kim Hofstad and Jennifer Schlepp’s fourth grade classes had a poetry reading along with a root beer float sale to raise funds to donate to the Sewing For Soldiers project. A check for $242 was presented to the Conrad Quilt Guild. In front from the left displaying two quilts Carson Bitney, Lakota Becker, Elizabeth Ringdahl and Jonathon Blanchard. In back from the left Phyllis Hammermeister, Pat Jones, Terry Syvertson and Wendy Wedum.  I-O Photo by Pat Lee





Submitted to the I-O by Wendy Wedum, Pondera County Extension Office

Sew for Soldiers is the brain child of Jona McNamee, MSU Extension Agent in Cascade County and Sharon Hovey.

Jona McNamee’s son Ed McNamee is a Master Sargent with the 755th ESFs or Emergency Support Functions with the Montana National Guard.

There are 31 men and women who are deployed until sometime this summer. This is McNamee’s third deployment. On his regular time, he is a junior and senior history teacher at CMR in Great Falls. He has three children, Stevie, Cameron and Avery, and his wife is Erica.

Jona was asked if the third deployment made it any easier? The answer, “No, it’s actually harder because you know what to expect.”

As a way to take her mind off of things while Ed was away, Jona had heard about the Quilts of Valor (QOV) program that gives donated quilts to returning soldiers.

Because all of the soldiers in this unit are known by Ed and are part of the Great Falls area, Jona and Sharon decided to change the name because it was for a specific group and they did not want to follow all of the QOV requirements.

How did I get connected with this? Jona and I have worked together since 2005.

She was new to quilting and had a group of quilters meet at the Cascade County Extension office.It was not too long before she started a Sew for a Cause program with other sewers in the county.

This resulted in a number of projects benefitting area children with pillow cases, Christmas Stockings and play capes, but also resulted in a joint project called Piecing It Together.

After Ed was deployed Jona asked me what I thought of the possibility of making 31 quilts to give to Ed’s Unit when they returned.Jona started networking with her Sew for a Cause group, Home Extension groups, and friends of Extension who said they would make a quilt.

What about other Guilds, would I be willing to ask the Conrad Quilt Guild to make up to five quilts?

In January I presented the challenge to the Montana Prairie Quilters in Conrad – would they be willing to make and donate five quilts to the National Guard Soldiers?

Yes, they answered. Not only that, they also identified other Conrad residents who are currently deployed in the military.Soon the count was up to about 10.

On the second Saturday’s in February and March, the Montana Prairie Quilters met at Pondera Valley Lutheran Church to cut and sew.

One quilt has already been completed and donated.  Eight more quilts have gone out to area quilters.Two more quilts are ready to go to quilters and 2-3 other quilts are still under construction.

The love and worries of a mother for her son have resulted in an amazing heart-warming, creative endeavor that will remind these soldiers that while they were away, they were thought of at home.

Jona McNamee said, “they say that behind every soldier is a mother on her knees, I guess I’m at the sewing machine, too!”A sentiment every mother of any age can relate to.

Editor’s note: For more information, contact Wedum, 4-H and Family and Consumer Science, Extension Agent at Montana State University Extension for Pondera County, phone is 406-271-4052.