In Carolyn Schafer’s Central Valley High School family and consumer sciences classroom last week, students, teachers and volunteers stuffed quilts into plastic bags, squeezing them to get most of the air out before placing them in a box. They added stars from American flags, provided by the Rotary Club. Cards made and signed by students, treats and magazines were placed in the boxes before they were taped up and addressed.
“A month ago, I didn’t think it was going to happen,” Schafer said. After Veterans Day, the last quilts she needed came in, ready for shipment. Schafer decided to hold a packing party to send them off.
Her project started last summer; an effort to sew 140 quilts to send to a co-worker’s unit in Afghanistan. Capt. Mason Flemmer, the orchestra teacher at CV and Greenacres Middle School, was deployed with the 455th Engineering Co. last June.
Schafer sought help from the community to get the quilts made.
Heidi French, a retired math and science teacher from Bowdish Middle School, read about the project and wanted to help. She sewed four quilts and found more.
She and her husband visit Metaline Falls every summer. While there this year, she told people at Sweet Creek Creations quilting shop about the project and they donated a quilt. Two weeks later, she visited the shop again and they had 10 more quilts for her.
“I started crying,” French said.
The project gained special meaning for French after a ceremony was held at CV to send off Flemmer’s unit. One of the soldiers kept looking at her and finally approached her. It was a former student, Curtis Baker.
“I couldn’t believe it at first,” she said. One of the quilts she made will be delivered to him.
Kelsi Wood, 17, is a senior who plays in the school band – and played in the marching band for Flemmer’s send-off. She heard about the packing party and decided to pitch in.
“It’s amazing how the community can get together and make something this big happen,” she said.
Deanna Ristau, a teacher at CV, said she and her mother pitched in to make quilts.
“She and I made one in two days,” she said.
Schafer said the project was given a boost last week when an anonymous donor, a veteran himself, saw her on television talking about the project. She mentioned she needed donations to ship all of the quilts to Flemmer’s unit.
The veteran drove to the school and offered to help.
“He wrote out a check right there,” she said. The check for $1,700 will cover the costs.
During the school’s Veterans Day observances, Schafer hung many of the quilts along the railings of the commons. Ristau took out her phone and filmed while she walked around the commons, looking at the quilts.
“Talk about community support, right?” Ristau said.