Suffolk woman needs help providing quiet comfort

Published 11:24 pm Thursday, June 11, 2009

Janet Gurwell has more fleece than she knows what to do with.

She has been a volunteer with Operation Quiet Comfort for the past two years. The non-profit organization sends care packages overseas to injured soldiers.

Among the most popular items sent are homemade quilts.

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Ordinarily, Operation Quiet Comfort has a specific pattern for volunteers to make quilts from cut-up blue jeans and appliqué squares that have been signed by people in the community thanking the soldiers for all their work.

“Putting that type of work together is a labor of love,” Gurwell said.

The quilts are given to the soldiers while they are recuperating. If they survive, they keep the quilts. If they do not, their quilts are shipped to their families back home.

While Gurwell said the quilts are rewarding to make, it takes too long to make them for all of the men and women getting injured overseas.

“People are getting hurt over there, much more frequently than we could ever hope to get those quilts together,” Gurwell said.

In order to make as many blankets as possible, Gurwell has begun a new task— litter blankets.

A litter blanket is a smaller blanket and is made up of two large pieces of fleece, instead of varying fabrics. The smaller blankets still are used for injured troops, but their simple construction makes it easier to provide a larger number.

“We would love to give everybody who is over there a big quilt, but time, materials and effort just doesn’t allow it,” Gurwell said. “As a way of making sure more people get a pat on the back from the people at home, we make these litter blankets and send them over. Whatever we can do to express to them our gratitude for what they’re doing over there, we want to do.”

On Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Suffolk Family YMCA’s childcare center, Gurwell will be holding a special sew-a-thon of sorts. Sewers of all experience levels are asked to come out Saturday morning, along with their sewing machines, to help Gurwell and Operation Quiet Comfort.

Gurwell will have the fleece and thread ready to make as many litter blankets as possible in order to send in time for the soldiers to have by the Fourth of July.

“We just need the heart and the hands of people,” Gurwell said.

Chick-Fil-A will provide lunch for the event.

For more information, call 434-1405.