RUMFORD –

Geneva Raymond said she was watching television last summer when she received a message from God.

“The Lord spoke to me. He wanted me to make quilts for veterans in Walter Reed hospital,” said the 71-year-old retiree. And that’s what she did, along with 16 of her quilt-making friends.

Most of the 29 lap and twin-sized quilts are due to be shipped to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., within the next few days. Some are going to patients from Maine.

“I was going to help another woman in Dixfield who does the same thing, but I thought, ‘No, the Lord spoke to you,'” she said Wednesday afternoon.

Her busy fingers and sewing machine have taken 12-inch squares created by some of the members of Ladies of the Lake, the Quiltrack and the Rumford Quilting Club, and Shirley Gammon’s group at her Blue Moose Quilting shop in Rumford, and made two quilts. She has made three of the quilts herself while also making baby quilts for Rumford Hospital, for family members, for fire victims, for the homeless, and for other worthy causes.

She never expected to amass 29 quilts in time for Christmas.

“It’s been amazing to watch some things grow,” she said.

Some of the handmade coverings are all in shades of pink, meant to be presented to women soldiers, while others are directed to golfers, or anyone who wants a little piece of home.

Most of them will go to the Soldier Family Assistance Center, which is part of Walter Reed medical center. Some will go to specific soldiers that Raymond knows were injured and are from Maine. One of them is Army Pvt. 1st Class Bradley Buckland, 22, of Detroit.

Another, Army Spec. David Saucier, 23, of Sabattus, is currently home and scheduled to return to Walter Reed hospital in mid-December.

Army Staff Sgt. Chad Staples, 22, of Jay, will have his quilt delivered by his father, who teaches school in Dixfield, Raymond said.

And Army Cpl. Travis Berry, 24, of Randolph is coming home Dec. 14 to spend Christmas with his family, and his quilt will be mailed to his mother, Kathy Cofton, who will place it under the Christmas tree for him to open. After the holiday, she said, he’ll return to Ft. Riley, Kan., for more treatment.

Along with the brightly colored patchwork quilts fashioned into stars, stripes and other designs in every color and print, many of the quilt-makers also wrote notes of gratitude to the injured soldiers and pinned them to the quilts. Notes tell the recipients that quilters, too, have had a son or daughter serving in Iraq, they ask for God’s blessing on them, thank them for their sacrifice, wish them warmth, and still others tell about the quilt pattern.

She said the project has been supported by many people, not just her fellow quilters. A neighbor is weighing the boxes of quilts to find out whether mail or ground carrier would be the least expensive way to ship them. Several area service clubs, such as the Rumford and Dixfield American Legion posts and auxiliaries, the Eagles, and individuals including Cindy Burke and Peggy Welch, donated money for postage or other transportation.

Raymond called Sen. Olympia Snowe’s office to find out how to get the quilts onto the laps of injured soldiers.

She believes God has thanked her for completing her mission.

“I’ve been blessed in many ways,” she said.

With 29 quilts about to be shipped, Raymond is already thinking about the next batch she wants to send to soldiers at Walter Reed hospital in the spring, assuring soldiers get quilts twice a year.

Anyone who would like to help may contact her at 364-4216.

Raymond said she’s pleased at the response and the chance she and her quilt-making friends to do something positive for the area.

“I want to show that people are working together to get something done here,” she said.


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