Sometimes one generous act of kindness leads to another.
Just ask Carole Carroll of Oxford, who for the past 11 years has volunteered as a member of Desert Angels, a Linden-based group founded about 16 years ago by Louise Blaine of Linden that puts together and sends care packages to troops serving in the armed forces in Afghanistan and Iraq. The boxes are sent in memory of Ortonville resident Army PFC Joseph A. Miracle, who’d only been stationed in Afghanistan 35 days before making the ultimate sacrifice, at age 22, while defending his unit in July of 2007.
Little did Carroll, a quilter for more than 30 years, know her volunteer work would guide her in a different direction – becoming the founder and coordinator of “Miracle Quilts,” a quilt-making group that serves as a “division” of Desert Angels.
Carroll said, one day Blaine was sent an email about a veteran who suffered a facial injury while serving his country. “I was able to contact his dad, and I made and sent him a quilt,” she said. “His son was critically injured and still in the hospital, and I started thinking about all the wounded soldiers in the hospital and their sacrifices. I approached Blaine and asked if Miracle Quilts could be a division of Desert Angels. She said ‘yes,’ so, we started Miracle Quilts to thank troops, who are injured and in the hospital, for their services and our freedom.”
Miracle Quilts had its first meeting in 2009 with Carroll and just two other quilters. “I advertised quite a bit, but it takes time to get the word out. Now, we have quilters making them in other states and putting them in the mail to us,” she said. Membership has grown to about 35 quilters, who, for the past eight years, have met every second Saturday at Independence Village Senior Living in Oxford.
While some members bring their own sewing machine to the monthly gatherings, Carroll said she has a couple in a closet she’s able to pull out. And, quilt kits that include a pattern and cut pieces of fabric, are also available. “We generally do one pattern for two or three months, then we change it up,” she said. Generally, the quilts are patriotic, but some display themes like hunting and fishing.
Each quilt costs about $100-$125 to make, but Carroll, who prides herself on having what she calls a “Ph.D. in shopping” (I love it!) knows how to get the most out of a craft store’s super sale. “I will go to four or five Joann (Fabric and Craft Stores), and I can buy some items wholesale.” One hundred percent cotton fabric is used for the quilt tops and backings, while the batting is 80 percent cotton and 20 percent polyester. “We (also) make a matching pillowcase for each quilt, and I put a (“thank you”) letter in there with the quilt.”
As coordinator for Miracle Quilts, Carroll is doing less quilting these days since most of her spare time is devoted to promoting the group, organizing its efforts and delivering quilts. “I cut (fabric) and organize, and I put the (quilt) kits together,” she informed. “I also do presentations. I go out and speak to quilt guilds where I talk about Miracle Quilts to get people involved in the sewing process, and to donate.
“We have a showcase in June at Independence Village of what we’ve done all year, and when the show is over, that’s when I start dispersing them. I mail (quilts) to Afghanistan to a field hospital, and Fisher House at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Landstuhl, Germany,” said Carroll. “Every other quilt, I personally put in my car and deliver. I go to Washington, D.C., and we go to the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. And, then there’s a variety of V.A. hospitals down there. We also go to the United States Armed Forces Retirement home on the Northside of D.C.”
To date, Miracle Quilts has made and donated close to 4,500 quilts, in various sizes. “At our show last year, we had, on display, over 750 quilts,” remarked Carroll, adding that the veterans are “thrilled” somebody is thinking of them, and “It’s just an emotional experience!”
Detroit News Columnist Jocelynn Brown is a longtime Metro Detroit crafter. You can reach her at (313) 222-2150, firstname.lastname@example.org or facebook.com/DetroitNewsHandmade.
Contact Miracle Quilts at (248) 321-8669 or on Facebook. Email: email@example.com.