When Purcellville-based nonprofit Joshua’s Hands began hosting community quilting events to benefit wounded warriors in January 2011, founder Joyce Guthrie said they didn’t know what to expect. Now more than six years later, the organization has continued making quilts for veterans every six months.
“It was such a great response and we had so much fun,” Guthrie said. “We had left-over fabric so we said, ‘Oh, we gotta do this again.”
Joshua’s Hands has made over 1,300 quilts for wounded veterans since its first quilt-making event. The organization invites community members of all skill types to join in the service project. The nonprofit provides the sewing machines, fabric cutters, fabric, thread and mentors — anything volunteers need to succeed.
“We’re mentoring the skills, transferring the skills while we’re making the quilts for the wounded warriors,” Guthrie said. “It’s a dual purpose and our goal is 100 quilts for every 10 day stint.”
The group makes various types of quilts, some simpler — for beginners — while experienced volunteers tackle more complicated patterns. One quilt design incorporates jean squares that Joshua’s Hands have sent out to community organizations across the country to decorate to represent their state. Then the squares are mailed back and turned into a quilt representing all 50 states and Washington D.C.
Joshua’s Hand also has one hand-quilted quilt on display to preserve the heritage of quilting.
Leesburg resident and retired Marine Corps Col. Scott Olsen and his son, Oliver, are among the quilt-making volunteers in this summer’s session. They both started with zero sewing or quilting experience and each day, devote 12 hours of their time to helping make quilts.
“Neither of us had ever used a sewing machine. It was a bit intimidating at first,” Scott Olsen said. “I won’t say we’re experts, but we can sew a straight line with the best of them now.”
The pair learned about the volunteer opportunity through Loudoun Cares. They cause attracted them to the project and they dedicated themselves to learning as much as they could about the craft. Between the two of them, the father and son pair have created six quilts — some of which included help from Oliver Olsen’s friends.
Oliver, a rising sophomore at Loudoun County High School, is a member of the NJROTC program and hopes to bring his fellow cadets to volunteer during the next quilt-making session.
“Really these women in here are the hard workers. They’re so patient with everyone … it’s really welcoming,” Scott Olsen said. “We’re just fractional support in this huge operation and it’s been fun.”
Once completed, the quilts will be shipped to various field offices and given to service members. The next 10-day quilt-making session will be January 2018.