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Relatives blanket firefighter with love
Stafford women make a quilt with T-shirts from fire stations across the country to honor a loved one's passion

 An Indian reservation fire training academy contributed this logo to the quilt for Stafford volunteer James Mangan.
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Date published: 1/19/2013


James Mangan suspected something was up when he couldn't find one of his favorite firefighter T-shirts.

His wife, Taylor, tried to throw him off track.

"You have so many, you don't know where they all are," she said.

Turns out, she and her mother, Vickie Daniels, had stitched the thread of a secret between them. Starting last summer, Taylor Mangan contacted fire departments across the country, asking them to donate shirts for a quilt Daniels planned to make for her son-in-law.

Mangan has volunteered with the Stafford Volunteer Fire Department for almost eight years, and his mother-in-law wanted to tap into her passion for crafts to recognize his passion for fighting fires.

Soon after the letters went out, packages started arriving, from Carova Beach in North Carolina and San Pasqual Reservation in Valley Center, California.

From Hilton Head and New York City, Fargo and Toledo.

And sew on.

And sew on.

Daniels assembled the materials, adding a few more purloined from Mangan's shirt drawer. She included one of his favorites, a gray shirt with photos of old fire trucks that commemorated the 50th anniversary of Stafford's Co. 2 last year.

Daniels spent almost three months putting needle and thread to her task. She used a machine to stitch around the images that graced T-shirt pockets and backs. She arranged the squares against panels of red, yellow and blue--fire department colors--and included phrases, such as the one from Kenova Fire Department in West Virginia that stated: "First in, Last Out."

Then, by hand, she attached the front of the quilt to another piece that formed the back.

Daniels tied them together, putting an old blanket in between to give the quilt added weight and warmth.

"I do believe in making them big and heavy," she said.

Her heart and bobbin were full as she quilted the one-of-a-kind Christmas present for the son-in-law she loves.

"I knew that we would like it," said Daniels, who lives near Stafford Courthouse, close to her daughter, son-in-law and their baby girl, Olivia, also known as "The Divine Miss O."

Mangan agreed with his mother-in-law, a phenomenon almost as unusual as getting the thread through the needle's eye on the first try.

"It's great, I've been wanting one of these," Mangan said, hoisting the blanket that dwarfs his queen-size bed.

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