Brave Patchwork

Photo by Brent Fleury

Photo by Brent Fleury

Dawn Kucera has seen the pain that military families experience when a loved one dies while serving their country. Kucera and volunteers like her use quilts to give these grieving families a measure of comfort.

Without fail, mothers who receive the quilts wrap themselves up in the gifts, Kucera says.

“I’ve gotten e-mails from moms who say things like, ‘I was really missing Kevin today, and I got your quilt out and took a nap under it and felt better,'” she says. “Quilts are comforting, and it’s a tangible thing that these people can latch on to.”

The Home of the Brave quilt project is a national, volunteer-driven organization that honors the memory of servicemen and women who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan by giving their families a handmade quilt. A total of 4,030 quilts have already been delivered to more than 3,400 families nationwide since the organization started in 2004 in California. But there are still many more quilts that have to be made and delivered.

“As of about two or three days ago, there were 6,013 war deaths. Our goal is to make a quilt for every single one of those families,” says Kucera, a Hendersonville resident who is North Carolina’s state coordinator for Home of the Brave. “We want to bring comfort to the families and honor the service of those military members. It’s our way as civilians to speak to these military families that have suffered these devastating losses and to let them know that they are not alone.”

Producing all of these quilts takes people, money and materials. “We subsist on donations. We need fabric and batting,” Kucera says. “There are administrative costs also. We print certificates to send to the families. We mail a quilt in a flat-rate box, and that’s 11 dollars, so we mail 10 quilts, and that’s over $100. If people can send donations, God bless them.”

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