Texas 4-H youth are literally wrapping current and former U.S. military members in a tangible – and very warm – expression of their appreciation for their service.  

The Texas 4-H Program has partnered with the National Quilts of Valor Foundation to initiate a youth branch of the Quilts of Valor, QOV, organization in the state.

A large group photo of individuals holding up squares for a quilt. The squares are replicas of the U.S. flag and are red white and blue.
As the designated Under Our Wings partner of the National Quilts of Valor Foundation, Texas 4-H has created some 50 quilts that have been awarded to deserving current and former U.S. military members. (Jheri-Lynn McSwain/Texas A&M AgriLife)

As the designated Under Our Wings Program partner for the state, Texas 4-H is working with the foundation on a youth-based service effort in which young people in grades 3-12 learn the art of quilting to create unique, patriotically themed quilts to be awarded to deserving active-duty and veteran military members.

“This is a service-learning project that incorporates the skills building of sewing, textiles and quilt-making with the act of community service for youth,” said Angela McCorkle, 4-H and youth development program specialist for the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, which administers the Texas 4-H program.

McCorkle said Texas 4-H members who participate in this project learn not only about quilting but also about the veterans themselves, the importance of service and sacrifice, and history.

She added that the project is also “a truly intergenerational effort” in that youth learn from quilters, many of whom are older, and from adults who have served in the military.

McCorkle said because May is Military Appreciation Month, it is important to acknowledge the efforts of Texas 4-H youth in helping recognize and show appreciation for active-duty and veteran former military service members through though the Quilts of Valor project.    

These quilts are heartfelt expressions of appreciation and love, symbolizing the deep respect we have for those who have selflessly served our country.

Jheri-Lynn McSwain, Ph.D.

Quilt recipient selection, recognition

Since July, Texas 4-H has initiated several Under Our Wings QOV projects throughout the state. Along with multiple projects implemented by county 4-H clubs, it has implemented projects involving 4-H members in multiple counties and states.

A man and a woman, Allen Baker and his wife, Bobbie, wrapped in a quilt he was awarded. He is wearing a plaid shirt and has on a tan cap. She is wearing a yellow shirt. The quilt is tan with red and blue squares.
WWII veteran Allen Baker, shown here with wife Bobbie, was among those awarded a quilt through the Texas 4-H and Under Our Wings/Quilts of Valor partnership. (Larry Hume/VFW Post 8904 Quartermaster)

“Once Texas 4-H members make a quilt, they send in a nomination form for an area active-duty or veteran military member to receive it,” McCorkle said. “Once a selection is made, an official Quilts of Valor label is stitched onto the quilt with information about who the quilt was awarded to and the group making the quilt. And because Texas 4-H is an official partner with QOV, the label also has our official 4-H clover design.”

When the 4-H member club or group awards a quilt to a veteran, a special ceremony is held in which the veteran is literally wrapped in the quilt by the people who made it.

“These quilts are heartfelt expressions of appreciation and love, symbolizing the deep respect we have for those who have selflessly served our country,” said Jheri-Lynn McSwain, Ph.D., AgriLife Extension youth development specialist for District 5.

So far, some 50 quilts have been created and awarded to military service members living in Texas.   

Texas 4-H involvement in Quilts of Valor                                         

Each AgriLife Extension region of the state will host a 4-H Quilts of Valor Sew Day in which 4-H youth and others can learn about the program and sew blocks for a county quilt top to be presented to a local military veteran. 

In September, the 4-H Under Our Wings program and the Shelby Sewcial Bee Quilting Club sponsored a Quilts of Valor Sew Day kickoff event in Center.

4-H youth in Shelby County award veterans quilts from Quilts of Valor project
In Shelby County, Texas 4-H partnered with VFW Post 8904 for nominations of prospective recipients and to help them coordinate quilt presentations. (Jheri-Lynn McSwain/Texas A&M AgriLife)

“Quilts made through these efforts were awarded to 20 veterans at the annual East Texas Poultry Festival,” said McSwain, who serves as Texas 4-H Under Our Wings Quilts of Valor program committee chair and coordinator. “In Shelby County, Texas 4-H partnered with VFW Post 8904 to receive nominations for prospective recipients and to assist in the quilt presentation.”

Shelby County also holds a Quilts of Valor Sew Day each quarter, inviting area youth and adults to participate.

“Through this service, 4-H members not only learn practical skills but also develop a sense of civic responsibility and empathy, shaping them into compassionate and engaged citizens of their communities,” McSwain said.

She said the effort also helps bridge the intergenerational gap between young people and older people at the local level, fostering an understanding between the generations while helping to strengthen communities by encouraging positive exchanges.

“It was an honor to receive this quilt and to be on stage with fellow veterans who also received a quilt,” said Vietman veteran Mike Wulf, who served in the Army. “It was especially meaningful since many people who served in Vietnam have not been recognized for their service. I was thrilled to be selected for this special recognition.”  

Individual and group sewers join the effort         

Texas 4-H members in Rusk County with components for Quilts of Valor quilts.
Texas 4-H members in Rusk County recently produced quilts to be awarded to three WWII veterans during Military Appreciation Month. (Liz Buckner-Cross/Texas A&M AgriLife)

In Rusk County, Texas 4-H member Amelie White, working with AgriLife Extension’s county agent for family and community health, Liz Buckner-Cross, and adult volunteers, recently produced three quilts to be awarded to WWII veterans in their county during Military Appreciation Month.

“I’ve always been good at sewing,” said White, a member of the 4-H Livestock Club of Rusk County who also serves as a Texas 4-H fashion and interior design ambassador. “This program has allowed me to teach others that skill. And it’s cool that we can recognize these military people by making quilts for them.”

Buckner-Cross said their efforts in Rusk County have received community-wide support.

“Along with the quilters and quilting organization, local youth and adults have pitched in to help make the quilts,” she said. “And we’ve also gotten a lot of support from volunteers with the Texas Extension Education Association.”

4-H members from several states making Quilts of Valor quilt squares at FCS competition and and conference in San Antonio
Texas 4-H members and 4-H members from other states made Quilts of Valor quilt squares for their service project at the 4-H Family and Consumer Science National Championship and Conference in San Antonio. (Paul Schattenberg/Texas A&M Agrilife)

In Bexar County, During the 4-H Family and Consumer Science National Championship and Conference in Bexar County in January, some 40 4-H members from 18 states participated in a Quilts of Valor community service project.  

“Not only Texas 4-H members, but 4-H members from Oregon, California, Tennessee, North Dakota and many other states were involved in this project,” said Natalie Cervantes, AgriLife Extension youth development specialist for the agency’s Central Texas District. “The 4-H organization emphasizes community service, and this was an example of like-minded young people working together on a project to recognize and honor our military.”

Upcoming Texas 4-H Quilts of Valor service projects

The Texas 4-H program is developing an annual Quilt Block Challenge tied to Quilts of Valor.

“Basically, we release a quilt block design that the members can replicate to produce a quilt,” said McSwain. “The quilt block design will be a patriotic theme so these quilts can be awarded to veterans. Texas 4-H clubs or groups or entire counties can produce a quilt.”

She said the 2024-2025 quilt challenge pattern has been released for Texas 4-H project leaders planning to incorporate the Under Our Wings project as a community service component during their summer 4-H camps.

A Quilts of Valor community service project day is scheduled during the annual Texas 4-H Roundup on the Texas A&M campus in College Station. On June 4, Texas 4-H youth from throughout the state will gather in a room on the upper level of Reed Arena to make quilt blocks to be used in assembling a quilt to be awarded to a local military service member.

About Quilts of Valor

Quilts of Valor is a volunteer-driven nonprofit organization providing patriotically themed quilts stitched by volunteers to active-duty and veteran service members as a token of appreciation for their service. The organization is sponsored by local businesses, civic clubs and individuals, but quilts are fashioned by volunteers around the U.S. and internationally.

The quilts can only be awarded to an active-duty service person or honorably discharged military veteran. A veteran can only receive one quilt in a lifetime, and all quilts are registered with the foundation.

Quilts of Valor has provided more than 380,000 quilts to active-duty and veteran members of the U.S. military service.

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