Fairmont Girl Scout honors veterans

Abby Tonder

Abby Tonder of Fairmont recently completed her Girl Scout Gold Award project, “Martin County Quilts of Honor.”

Having been a Girl Scout since kindergarten, the 18-year-old knew there would be a lot of hard work and dedication going into the project, and she was ready to meet the challenge. Tonder described the project and the process to complete it.

“My journey started last summer when I decided to begin my Gold Award for Girl Scouts,” she said. “This award is the equivalent to the Eagle Scout award for Boy Scouts. For my project, I wanted to honor veterans in our community who deserve recognition for their service to our country.

“With the help of my project adviser, Susan Gallagher, Girl Scout consultant Nancy Klemek and my parents, I made a plan. We started by creating quilts at ‘God’s Grace is Amazing,’ which is a service day that Grace Lutheran Church [in Fairmont] does. I also had the help of Fairmont high school students and we continued this journey by finishing the sewing part of the quilts, and then with the help of years of cookie sale money and a donation from the Fairmont Police Officer Association we had the quilts professionally quilted.”

According to its website, the mission of Quilts of Honor is to bestow a universal symbol and token of thanks, solace, and remembrance to those who serve in harm’s way to protect and defend Americans’ lives and freedoms. Quilts of Honor are made by countless volunteers who wish to thank those who have served.

All three of Tonder’s quilt recipients served in Vietnam, two in the Air Force and one in the Army. In addition, all three men serve as citizens on patrol, working with the police department.

Tonder said one of her favorite parts of the project was having people come together to work on something for people who deserved it. She did say there were some hurdles.

“The weather really came into it because that made it so we didn’t have many days to get it done,” she said. “The made the project fall behind, but we were able to get caught back up.

“One of the most challenging aspects is that there were so many people who deserve the honor that choosing somebody was really hard, because there are so many in our community that deserved to be honored. That’s why we’re excited to keep it going, because then we can have more people in or community receive them.”