Quilts of Valor Foundation shows appreciation for veterans
St. Regis High School student Baylee Pruitt shares a warm moment with U.S. veteran John Cheesman after presenting him with a Quilt of Valor on Veterans Day. (Andrew Sanford/Mineral Independent)
By ANDREW SANFORD
For the Mineral Independent
“The Quilts of Valor Foundation wishes to recognize you for your service to our nation. We consider it a privilege to honor you. Though we may never know the extent of your sacrifice and service to protect and defend the United States of America, as an expression of gratitude we award you this Quilt of Valor.”
That was the short yet powerful speech veterans in the St. Regis area heard before receiving a handmade quilt from the Quilts of Valor Foundation.
The Quilts of Valor Foundation was founded by Catherine Roberts in 2003 after her son was deployed in Iraq. Since then more than 255,000 quilts have been presented to veterans across the nation.
Last spring St. Regis K-12 Principal Shaun Ball found out about the Quilts of Valor Foundation through Edward and Debra Foste.
Edward Foste served his country during the Cold War and in the Gulf War, and his grandson Ayden Rael was one of the four St. Regis students that helped hand out quilts.
“They’re just kind-hearted people,” Rael said while traveling in the backseat of the school counselor Tyler Cheesman’s truck to deliver the quilts.
Senior Grace King echoed Rael's statement. “They’re totally selfless. They put their country before their own lives,” King said.
After arriving at the houses of the selected veterans, the St. Regis students were always met with a smile, and were even invited into some of the veterans’ homes to escape the cold weather.
What followed was even more smiles and sometimes a bit of storytelling, all of which helped junior Baylee Pruitt see the bigger picture.
“Our veterans deserve to be recognized,” Pruitt said. “They had one of the most mentally and physically challenging jobs ever.”
Due to COVID-19 restriction St. Regis K-12 was unable to have its annual Veterans Day breakfast at the school, but the Quilts of Valor Foundation was the perfect way for the school and its students to continue to show their appreciation for the community's veterans.
Jack Connolly, another student who helped deliver the quilts, found the experience quite rewarding.
“Seeing the smile on their faces,” Connolly said. “That was my favorite part.”