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Marianne Fons and Quilts of Valor

Marianne Fons and Quilts of Valor

Written by: 
Linzee McCray
Valiant Eagle & Dan Marianne's awarded her first Quilt of Valor, Valiant Eagle, to Dan Collins, a Viet Nam veteran just her age. He told her "I use this quilt every day. I'm cold because of Agent Orange, so I lie under my quilt when I watch TV."

When Marianne Fons met Quilts of Valor founder Catherine Roberts, she surprised herself by asking what she could do to help the foundation. “There are so many great causes that quilters support, but I’d never said that to anyone before,” says Marianne. So Catherine shared her two fondest wishes—she’d love for the first lady to stitch a quilt in the White House, and she longed for fabrics exclusively produced for QOV. Marianne didn’t think she could help much with the first wish, but realized she might convince fabric companies to create the patriotic fabrics of Catherine Roberts’ dreams.

Mark & Pinwheels Plus "Pinwheels Plus" was awarded to Mark, a young man from Marianne's hometown of Winterset, IA. A friend whose son graduated in the same class told Marianne about Mark and his service.

Marianne is cofounder, along with Liz Porter, of the popular Fons and Porter’s Love of Quilting magazine and the public television show of the same name. Putting her industry connections to good use, she invited every quilting fabric company to consider producing QOV lines. Nine companies, including Moda, took up the challenge and introduced their QOV fabrics at the October, 2010, Quilt Market. At that point, 40,000 quilts had been presented to service men and women “touched by war”—today that number is nearly 106,000.

“If you take out your calculator and estimate $150 times 100,000 quilts—that’s millions of dollars,” says Marianne. “My role is to educate and share with people in the industry the impact that our 10,000 volunteers have. They buy fabrics, make quilts constantly, award them to veterans, and turn around and make another. There are people who have made more than 100 quilts.”

Walt & QOV Marianne awarded her brother-in-law his Quilt of Valor when he retired as a Major General from the Army a couple of years ago. He says it's his go-to covering for afternoon naps.

While turning a profit is important, the motivation behind QOV fabrics goes much deeper. In the 2012 Quilts of Valor documentary, Moda’s founder and CEO Mark Dunn notes that Americans have an obligation to welcome armed forces members home and to provide them comfort. Moda’s first QOV fabrics were designed by Minick and Simpson, while the two newest will be Sandy Gervais’s Red, White, and Free and Because of the Brave.

Neil & Mary's QOV This was the first Quilt of Valor made by Marianne's daughter and IPTV co-host Mary Fons. Marianne awarded it to a young man named Neil, who was severely injured in the line of duty.

Marianne Fons involvement with QOV has two motivations. “It allows me to express my patriotism in a way I’m comfortable with, and it involves more people in quilting,” she says. “I think the foundation’s mission and what its membership does, is so meaningful.” Marianne was at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Washington, DC, in May for the presentation of the 100,000th Quilt of Valor, and at a ceremony in her home state of Iowa where a quilt was presented to veterans who served in wars in Korea, Viet Nam, and Iraq. “It was three generations, and it was important to each of them,” she says. “I’m always especially moved to present a quilt to a Viet Nam veteran, because they’re my age, from my generation. Some say it’s the first time anyone has thanked them for their service.”

May 2014 This past spring, Quilts of Valor Foundation commemorated the award of the 100,000th Quilt of Valor. Marianne was honored to present a quilt to a young soldier undergoing treatment at Walter Reed Military Medical Center.

Since joining QOV, Marianne has made eight quilts to give to veterans (some have been featured in Fons and Porter’s Love of Quilting magazine, which publishes a QOV-appropriate pattern in each issue). “Before this, I didn’t give away my quilts very much, but now I’m giving them away left and right,” she says. “If you haven’t made a Quilt of Valor, make one today. You can make one yourself or help a newbie make one. Once you’ve awarded one, you’ll want to do it again and again.”

For more about Quilts of Valor click here.

For information on Moda's Piece and Comfort 2015 challenge, click here.

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