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Sunday, May 1, 2016

Quilts for the brave

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Lance Cpl. Jordan McBryde displays his quilt of valor.
(Submitted photo)
Some of the Community Middle School students who helped make the quilt of valor, from left, are Karina Pina, Tawny Nelson, Denton Bell, Nikki Thurber, Jake Cartwright, Maggie Yates and Jamie Demonbreun with their art teacher, Cynthia Donnelly.

This story is about a quilt. But not just any quilt, but a "quilt of valor."

When Marine Lance Cpl. Jordan McBryde of Houston was seriously wounded by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan in 2010, he was treated and sent to a military hospital stateside where he began the long process of recovering from multiple wounds.

Like many other "wounded warriors," McBryde was given a quilt of valor created through the efforts of a network of women from Unionville, Murfreesboro, Crossville and Washington, D.C.

Grateful search

In McBryde's case, the quilt was described as "a wonderful gift" by his aunt Lisa Hamlett of Waller, Texas.

Hamlett was so taken by the marvelous quilt of many colors that she was determined to find out who made it.

Her search began with the Quilts of Valor Foundation which used its network to find Brenda White in Unionville.

Journey begins

White had cloth squares and colored fabric markers and she contacted art teacher Cynthia Donnelly at Unionville Middle School.

Donnelly accepted the project for her students in seventh grade art class.

"They were excited that it was for a soldier," Donnelly said. "They really enjoyed painting in the squares."

The students finished the project in April last year and returned the decorated cloth squares to White, who gave them to a fellow volunteer for an organization called Citizen S.A.M., or Citizen Support for American Military.

Next stops

The next volunteer to pick up the "quilt of valor" was Jill Shaver of Murfreesboro, who took charge of sewing the blocks of fabric together.

Then Shaver had to find another volunteer with a longarm quilting machine to actually finish the quilt.

Elayne Vognild, a quilter in Crossville who belongs to the Smoky Mountain Quilters, accepted the task.

Once finished, the quilt was sent to the Quilts of Valor Foundation for distribution.

Soldier's favorite

This particular quilt for Lance Cpl. McBryde was given to him by the Red Cross while he was in the Intensive Care Unit at Walter Reed Medical Center.

Hamlett said in a letter that her "nephew has received many awards however this quilt has become one of his favorites."

She wrote that it "reminded me of my days as a scout leader.

"We made these quilts and blankets to send to the men and women fighting for us overseas," Hamlett continued.

"A big lump filled my throat when I saw this quilt from your school," she wrote. "I never dreamed of my family being on the receiving end of this precious gift."

Students thanked

That letter was received by Community Middle School Principal Dee McCullough and Donnelly last October.

"At the beginning of the school year, I showed it to many of the students involved," said Donnelly.

"They got all excited," she said.

McBryde still has the quilt, according to his aunt. And he continues to heal as he receives treatment for his wounds at a military hospital in San Antonio.

McBryde is expected to receive a medical discharge from the Marine Corps this year, Hamlett said.

How to help

To learn more about the volunteer organizations involved in this project, visit:

* Quilts of Valor Foundation: www:qovf.org

* Citizen S.A.M.: www.citizensam.org

* Red Cross: www.redcross.org

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