Local women create quilts for wounded soldiers

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To help create quilts, people can make a 12-inch quilt square, assist in ironing or packaging completed quilts, or make a donation to help with postage.

For more information, contact Sharon Gilsleider at 357-4903, sharongil@roadrunner.com, or 633 Common Road, Dixfield, ME 04224; or Michele Araujo at michelechrislily@hotmail.com

Local women create quilts for wounded soldiers

DIXFIELD – Sharon Gilsleider is turning her passion for sewing into quilts for wounded American soldiers. And she hopes others in the River Valley will join in.

She, along with her niece, Michele Araujo, launched Western Maine Quilts for Soldiers only a few days ago. Now they want to get the word out.

“I wanted to do something for the soldiers. This is not politically oriented,” she said.

The Western Maine project is affiliated with the national group, Quilts of Valor, based in Delaware. More than 10,000 quilts have been created by people from across the United States so far, Gilsleider said.

Both Gilsleider and Araujo have ties to soldiers who are serving in Iraq or Afghanistan. Gilsleider’s nephew, Adam Perrault of Dixfield, was deployed two weeks ago, and Araujo’s brother-in-law, Patrick Araujo of New Sharon, is scheduled for a second round of service in a couple of weeks. Araujo’s husband’s cousin, Corey Dan of Norway, was killed in Iraq.

“I want to help out the soldiers because they need it,” said Araujo, an educational technician at Peru Elementary School.

Gilsleider, a part-time bookkeeper, said quilts are given to wounded soldiers recuperating in one of the military’s medical facilities. The quilts often are placed on the soldier before the family arrives so the shock of seeing a wounded son or daughter is not quite so stark.

Some quilts are given to families of wounded or fallen soldiers.

The quilts are usually at least 50-by-60 inches in size, and all squares 12-by-12 inches. Individuals can make an entire quilt, or just the squares. Gilsleider and Araujo will sew the squares together, and complete the quilt with batting and a backing. Each quilt is given to the soldier or family in a presentation bag, much like a pillow case.

People who make squares may also include letters to soldiers thanking them for their service or wishing them well. All the letters and the quilt will be inserted in the bag for presentation, said Gilsleider.

For those who don’t sew, Gilsleider said they need help with ironing or packaging the quilts, and donations for mailing the quilts, cloth and batting.

So far, she has sent three quilts to Quilts of Valor.

She hopes people will participate in the project. As quilts are completed, she is mailing them out. She hopes to have a large number of the colorful covers created with the help of residents just before Christmas, as well.

Gilsleider will also be in contact with Quilts of Valor to learn where quilts are needed. Quilts may also be sent to injured soldiers whose families live in the River Valley.

Araujo is just beginning to learn quilting, but Gilsleider has been sewing all her life, and quilting for a dozen years. She was the creator of Dixfield’s bicentennial quilt in 2003.

Quilt squares may be dropped off at Gilsleider’s home on the Common Road, or at Log Cabin Craftwork in Dixfield village.

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