BLAIR COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) — On the first Saturday of every month, a local chapter of the national nonprofit, Quilts of Valor Foundation, get together at Connie’s Collectibles and Quilt Shop in Duncansville to put together patriotic quilts. 

Connie Shaw, owner of Connie’s Collectibles and Quilt Shop, sews a patriotic quilt

“What we do with the quilts is we give them to the veterans,” Connie Shaw, owner of Connie’s Collectibles and Quilt Shop, said. “We are so glad to give them to our veterans and appreciate their service and honor them.”

The group calls themselves the Patriotic Peacemakers of Pennsylvania. Each quilt is stitched together with healing thoughts to give to our local veterans like Bob Hampton and Rich Brantner.

Rich Brantner when he joined the Navy

“Once I graduated in 1965, I then of course went on active duty about two weeks after graduation,” Brantner, a Navy veteran, said.

Brantner was just a teenager when he joined the Navy. He was aboard the ship USS Suribachi (AE-21).

“It was an ammunition ship,” Brantner explained. “So in reality I spent two years of my life, whether it be awake or during sleep, I was on a bomb.”

Hampton made a career out of the military. He served our country in the Air Force for 28 years.

“I went from 1962 to 1990 and I thoroughly enjoyed it,” Hampton, an Air Force veteran, said. “I loved working with the people.  I loved doing what I was doing. It was always exciting. Every day was a new day for me.”

Bob Hampton gets a quilt at the Quilts of Valor presentation

A special plaque, with Hampton’s rank, ribbons and a flag that was flown over Washington, D.C., was given to him at retirement. It’s one of his most treasured possessions and he says his new quilt is just as special to him.

“It was quite an honor and it caught me by surprise,” Hampton explained.

At a presentation in September 2021 at the Memorial Church of the Brethren in Martinsburg, the Patriotic Peacemakers of Pennsylvania gifted nine veterans with a quilt.

Nine veterans receive a quilt at the Quilts if Valor Presentation

It’s a token of appreciation for their dedication to our country and a constant reminder of our gratitude to our service members.

“Not only do I feel honored that I served my country, but I’m also honored that this organization awarded these quilts to myself,” Brantner said. “I will cherish that quilt for as long as I live.”

Back at Connie’s Collectibles and Quilt Shop, the group continues piecing together quilts for more nominees.

Rich Brantner gets a quilt at the Quilts of Valor presentation

“It is just heartwarming,” Shaw said. “It just makes you feel so good. There are usually tears at every presentation that we have. From either the veteran, the family or us. It’s just an honor for us to give those to the veterans.”

Each one is made with care as a way to thank our veterans who proudly served our country and offer them a sense of comfort and healing.

The Quilts of Valor Foundation was started by Blue Star mom Catherine Roberts in 2003. There are now groups spread out in all 50 states, including several chapters in our region.

Ladies from the Patriotic Peacemakers of Pennsylvania make patriotic quilts at Connie’s Collectibles and Quilt Shop

You can nominate any veteran to receive a quilt. If you do not have access to a computer, you can reach out to Shaw at 814-695-2786. 

The local chapter is also always looking for help with sewing or donations.

Reach out to Maggie Smolka by emailing or by sending her a message on Facebook if you know someone or an organization that’s making it matter in the community.

Sign up for the WTAJ Newsletter for the latest local news, weather and community events that matter to you.