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FARMINGTON — A number of San Juan County veterans were recognized by the San Juan Quilters Guild today when the veterans were presented with 39 handmade quilts to thank them for their service.

The veterans received their quilts at a presentation during the guild’s annual two-day quilt show at the Farmington Civic Center.

Dubbed “Quilts of Valor,” it was a project that was coordinated by Becki Dunham, who also inspired the project after making two quilts for her son Kevin Digman when he served in the Marines.

It was a part of the group's community service projects through which members make quilts that can be donated to nursing homes, police department and other organizations in San Juan County.

“It’s a work of love. We do it to honor those people,” Dunham said.

One of the quilts Dunham made for Digman contained 212 shamrocks, one for every day of his deployment.

For the “Quilts of Valor” project, Dunham made four quilts during a four-month period before this weekend’s show.

Members of the VFW Post 2182 performed the flag ceremony at the beginning of the presentation. Following the flag ceremony, all the veterans were introduced before their quilts on display were taken down and presented to them.

Standing in front of a quilt about 7 feet wide and 6 feet tall, Brauck Springer was taken back by how beautiful the quilt made for him was. Springer — who served 13 years in the Navy as an avionics technician — said members of the quilt guild visited the VFW post to find veterans they could make quilts for.

He received an email about a week ago, stating he would be receiving a quilt during the quilt show.

“It’s amazing. It’s beautiful,” Springer said about the quilt.

Veterans at the quilt show who received quilts described the experience as humbling and admirable.

“It’s kind of emotional,” former Navy aviation machinist Bart Sisson said. “It makes me feel respected and thanked for what we did.”

For Shane Utley — an Army and New Mexico National Guard veteran — he thought it was impressive that the quilters took part of their show and dedicated it to veterans.

Utley spoke with Gail Hoffman — who made Utley’s quilt — for a couple of minutes about the quilt before giving her a hug to thank her. Hoffman said Utley’s quilt was made with many of hours of love at her sewing machine.

In a patch sewn in the corner of Utley’s quilt, Hoffman wrote a short little message that lists the six years Utley serviced, his rank of sergeant and information on who designed and made the quilt.

The message ends with Hoffman thanking Utley for his sacrifice — punctuated with three exclamation points.

Joshua Kellogg covers education for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627.

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