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Spotsylvania woman, preschoolers present quilt to Marine.
Date published: 5/21/2012
Luena Barclay bought a new sewing machine three months before her granddaughter was born, figuring she'd make all the little girl's clothes.
Then a friend introduced her to quilting.
"Once I started quilting, her clothes came from Gymboree," Barclay said of granddaughter Ava Beacham.
Ava was born May 3, 2007. Three weeks later, Bradley S. Harrell, a Marine from Tennessee, deployed for his first tour in Iraq.
On Wednesday, Barclay and Ava, with help from Ava's Spotsylvania County preschool classmates, presented Sgt. Harrell, now a Marine recruiter in Fredericksburg, with a quilt in honor of his service.
Barclay created the twin-size blanket--decorated with the handprints of 40 children from Stepping Stone Preschool and trimmed with red, white and blue fabric--under the Quilt of Valor program, which provides the comforters to service members and veterans touched by war.
Harrell, who ultimately served two tours in Iraq, accepted the gift with his wife, Alexandra, and 3-week-old son, Warren, by his side.
"In a few years, when Warren gets his big-boy bed, maybe Mommy and Daddy will let him use this," Barclay told the youngsters, who scanned the quilt and squealed every time they spotted their own handprints.
They peppered an obliging
Harrell pulled up a tiny chair and thanked them before bracing himself for a group hug.
"This is not just an opportunity for me to accept something," he said. "This is on behalf of all the other Marines I've served with. It's always the people you're around who make you who you are. Definitely the Marines I've been around have made me."
MADE WITH LOVE
Just about every member of Barclay's family has one of her homemade quilts, and she donates several a year to worthy causes.
In the fall, a friend told her about the Quilt of Valor program, founded in 2003 by Delaware resident Catherine Roberts, whose son was serving in Iraq.
Roberts wanted returning warriors welcomed home in a special way, and the movement was born. Since then, her organization has awarded more than 65,500 quilts to individual military members and units.
Barclay, whose husband, Bob, is a retired Marine, liked the sound of that.
The mission of the Quilts of Valor Foundation is to cover all service members touched by war with "comforting and healing Quilts of Valor."
For more information, visit the organization's website, qovf.org.