RILEY, Kan. – Gina Flikkie, owner, Oodles of Doodles, a quilt shop in Riley, organized a volunteer project to make a quilt for every Soldier in Company D, 1st Battalion, 28th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, during the unit's recent deployment to eastern Afghanistan. The company hosted an assembly Sept. 6 so Flikkie and several other volunteers could hand deliver the quilts to the Soldiers.
"These quilts are a piece of us that will go forward and stay in the lives of these Soldiers," Flikkie said. "Quilts are a piece of comfort, and Soldiers deserve to be comforted because of all the stuff they go through and the things they do for our country."
Flikkie asked friends, customers of her shop and fellow quilters from the local communities to help her make the quilts for the Soldiers. More than 30 volunteers joined in her efforts, using their time, resources and quilting skills to make 90 quilts – one for every Soldier in the company.
Flikkie's son Edward Schouse, a former Soldier of the company, was deployed with the unit. Before the deployment, he asked his mother to gather supplies to send the Soldiers in his unit care packages. This is where Flikkie came up with the idea of making the quilts.
Standing before the Soldiers of the company, Capt. Mathew Bailey, commander, Co. D, 1st Bn., 28th Inf. Regt., presented Flikkie with a certificate of appreciation for her hard work and dedication to his Soldiers.
As Flikkie spoke to the room full of Soldiers, tears came to her eyes as she told them how much their sacrifices meant to her and the other volunteers.
"It was nice to get the award, but I didn't need it," Flikkie said. "Everyone that donated their time and resources on these quilts needs to be remembered … We didn't make these quilts for recognition; we made them to let the Soldiers know that we support and care for them."
After the presentation of the award, Soldiers lined up around the room and received a quilt and a hug from Flikkie and the other volunteers. After receiving their hugs and quilts, every Soldier signed a card for Karen Lehne, a volunteer who quilted 17 blankets on her own but was unable to attend the quilt presentation.
"The quilts were a thing we could give back to our Soldiers," Flikkie said. "We know it's hard to be a Soldier and we wanted to support them. These Soldiers put their lives before ours. It felt really good to hug them and thank them for their service. I didn't want to let go. We genuinely care for these Soldiers. We wanted to show our support and let them know how much we do care."