Cannon quilters continue mission of making quilts for families of fallen troops

Cannon Connections photo: Liliana Castillo Adah Dean cuts quilt top pieces to the correct size.

Liliana Castillo

Operation Homefront Quilts at Cannon Air Force Base has changed its name but not its mission.

Joanne and Jessica Porter began the program in Florida but became overwhelmed with the project early this year. Ellen Saccoia-Smith, who organizes the local group, said she and her group of quilters were upset when they heard the project was ending.

“My girls and I are very committed to seeing this through,” Saccoia-Smith said. “We looked at taking it over, but it was too much for our group.”

Saccoia-Smith and the group decided to look around and join forces with another group. They joined with the Home of the Brave Quilts project, which makes memorial quilts in a specific Civil War cross pattern. The members said they wanted to keep with Operation Homefront Quilt’s mission of making quilts for families who have lost a servicemember instead of for wounded servicemembers.

“There are a lot of people doing that and that’s just not what we wanted to do,” said Clovis quilter Adah Dean.

With Operation Homefront Quilts, the group sent 100 quilts a year to Florida, and the Porters dispersed them to families on a list of those who had lost a family member in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. With Home of the Brave, Saccoia-Smith is the state coordinator for New Mexico and Mississippi, and the group makes quilts for a specific individual that Saccoia-Smith finds on that list.

“It takes a little detective work to make sure they go to the right people,” Saccoia-Smith said. “But it’s worth it.”

Saccoia-Smith said the group at Cannon has about 20 members, with five who make it to every meeting, which she refers to as the core. Some of the members have moved to different duty stations but still contribute by sending quilt tops.

Amy Armenta of Clovis has been quilting for 20 years.

“If it were to happen to me, I’d very much appreciate someone contributing a quilt in memory of my son or daughter,” Armenta said.

Linda Horn, retired military, travels from Levelland, Texas, once a month for the group’s meetings.

“It’s to make a difference to the family. They realize their child is not forgotten,” Horn said.

Dean said it’s emotional making a quilt for a family who has lost someone.

“It makes you feel good to do that for someone else,” she said.

Cannon’s group was the largest contributor the Porters had to Operation Homefront Quilts, sending the program 600 quilts overall.

To join, contact Ellen Saccoia-Smith at the Airman and Family Readiness Center at 784-4228.