McHenry County veterans honored with handmade quilts on Veterans Day

HUNTLEY, Ill. (WLS) -- Veterans in McHenry County received special quilts made by hand in their honor by the Gazebo Valor Quilters of Huntley.

Each stitch on the custom quilts are part a labor of love but, more than that, a humbled service to our veterans.

"These quilts are a symbol of our love," said Cathy Smetters, Gazebo Valor Quilts.

Smetters teamed up with the McHenry County Historical Society to honor local veterans in the northwest suburbs with custom-made quilts.

"These wonderful ladies, who help us put these quilts together and who started the organization, created them so they can get wrapped in the love of their country and just to say thank you," she said.

Typically, this quilting cohort would host a formal presentation, wrapping each blanket around the veterans, but in the time of COVID-19 they adapted and offered drive-up curbside service instead.

"It brings tears to my eyes," said John Fenzel, U.S. Army veteran. "I don't know how else to express it. It just makes you feel good, makes you happy to be an American."

Fenzel enlisted toward the end of the Korean War.

"You just had to do it; when they need you, you go," he said.

That sentiment and gratitude shared among a the handful of other veterans honored Tuesday is a mission upheld by the quilters for 10 years.

"It's a mission of love and we hope for many years we will continue on in showing our love for our veterans," said Smetters.

Smetters said their organization has been able to hand out 3,100 custom quilts thanks to the help of fundraisers; fundraisers which were cancelled this year. Still, she said, they will go as long as the donations hold out.
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