Hilltoppers hand out Quilts of Valor to veterans at Maurice Car’rie

A group of U.S. military veterans that received Quilts of Valor from the Hilltoppers quilting group Saturday, Nov. 9, pose for a group photo at Maurice Car’rie Winery. Jeff Pack photo

More than two dozen United States military veterans received quilts from members of the Hilltoppers quilt group as part of the Quilts of Valor presentation event held Saturday, Nov. 9, at Maurice Car’rie Winery.

“We had more veterans this time than we’ve had ever before,” Dorothy Sheldrake of the Hilltoppers said. “There’s still so many more that we want to award quilts to. There were several here today that were here to support their friends.”

The mission of the Quilts of Valor Foundation, which oversees the work of local and regional groups like the Hilltoppers, is to cover service members and veterans touched by war with comforting and healing Quilts of Valor.

As roughly 100 friends, family members and visitors to the winery watched on, each veteran was called to the stage, presented with their quilt by the person who made it for them and was covered over the shoulders.

This year, quilts were presented to Jack “J.D.” Clark, John Fisher, Al Gilbertson, Ted Hybbert, Chuck McDivett, James Orr, Quentin Duvall, Rafael Ventura, William Richardson, Dennis Romano, Jack Sims, Steven Sutton, Antone Williams and Rocky Zarillo.

Zarillo, from Winchester, was touched by the event and the quilt.

“It feels really good,” he said. “I mean, because the girls, you see how beautiful they really did on it. You could tell that they put their heart and soul into it. It was just well made. And they do it because they want to do it and to show their appreciation.

“It’s an honor for me to be here and to see all these other guys and what they’ve gone through and stuff like that,” he said. “It was an honor to see them being recognized for what they’d done for this country.”

Fisher of Hemet felt the same way.

“I’m very humbled,” he said. “After 40 years, to get a little recognition like this along with my fellow veterans means a lot to me. As long as my brain can remember things, I’m gonna remember this forever. Absolutely means a lot to me.”

The quilts, some taking as long as a year to make, were created by Linda Foresta, Jan Ritt, Sheldrake, Diane Meyer, Pat Magil who made two quilts, Ann Beckett, Rita Jones, Charlotte Brough, Carol Barfneck, Barara Myrick, Mary Waller, Mary Dyer and Ruth Hoos.

“The main thing is they know that we appreciate their service,” Sheldrake said when the event was over. “We don’t know what they’ve gone through, we only hear little bits and pieces, but we know they weren’t treated well, the Vietnam one when they came back.

“So, if we can give them a little bit of thank you and appreciation that’s great,” she said. “I’ve heard stories about how when some of them have received their quilt, it was more healing than we can imagine. So it’s done a lot for some of the veterans.”

The Hilltoppers showed approximately 40-50 quilts throughout the day at Maurice Car’rie, and one was raffled off to help raise funds for the next round of quilts for the veterans.

Jeff Pack can be reached by email at jpack@reedermedia.com.