The Valdosta Daily Times
Valdosta Middle School Players present several plays each school year, but for Christmas season, the student acting troupe hopes to present a Quilt of Valor to a returning American soldier who has suffered a traumatic brain injury.
Toni Jarvis, VMS Players director, says she discovered the Quilt of Valor during the summer through Facebook. Jarvis wanted to make one but didn’t have the time to create a quilt alone. She thought it would be a “really good project for the students to become a part of and teach them about service and compassion for others.”
Developed by Blue Star mom Caherine Roberts, Quilt of Valor is a non-profit organization that serves military personnel who have been wounded or affected by combat.
For Jarvis, Quilt of Valor seemed a natural project given her interests and desire to give back.
“I have been quilting for about 12 years,” Jarvis says. “My mother taught me. It was something special we would do together. We never knew about the Quilt of Valor, but I know if we had known about this, it would have been a project we would have loved to do.”
With her students, Jarvis selected a nine-patch block for their quilt, a design that is not too complicated for first-time quilters.
The project also includes writing letters to their selected soldier, who lives in Atlanta.
“We write letters to our soldier as a journalism process with the quilt,” she says. “We had instructions to include last names or our town, but we did let him know we were a middle school and that we were very proud of him and of his job. We told him of our own journey and about learning how to sew and quilt. We have put all our letters in a notebook and will send it with the quilt.”
Once their part of the quilt was completed, VMS Players sent it to North Georgia where the backing will be sewn to the Valdosta Middle students’ work. Jarvis does not know if the quilt will be presented to the soldier in time for Christmas.
The experience has created a new rapport between the students and their teacher. The students stitched the pieces by hand and Jarvis went over the stitches with her sewing machine.
“This has been a great experience for me,” she says. “... It has opened up many conversations with my students about sewing and about service to others. One of my students asked what made me want to do this. I told her that it was the right thing to do and we needed to do more of it in our everyday life. She smiled at me and I knew she understood. Another student said she went home and asked for a sewing machine and started to make her own quilt with her mother. A pink and green one. It warmed my heart to know I had passed on a great joy to her family.”