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Miracle Quilts covers Walter Reed



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July 07, 2010 - John Smith remembers what it was like coming home from the Vietnam War.

"Cold. It was a cold reception," he said.

Carole Carroll is trying to make it warmer for returning soldiers. And she's doing that with quilts.

Carroll is the vice-president of Miracle Quilts, a non-profit organization in Metamora that focuses energy on making quilts for wounded soldiers.

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The organization was inspired by the death of Pfc. Joseph Miracle of Ortonville. Miracle was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade, Vicenza, Italy. He died at age 22 on July 5, 2007, in Afghanistan.

"I read an article about Joe Miracle and his story made a mark on my heart," Carroll said.

Carroll said Joe's mother, Judy Miracle, joined Miracle Quilts in November and she joins other members of the group every month.

Judy isn't the only person who is committed to the project. Carroll said there are about 100 people who contribute to the making of quilts, and the organization started only 15 months ago.

"We just delivered 171 quilts made by local quilters," Carroll said.

She and a few members of the group just returned from a delivery trip to the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., where Smith is the assistant liaison.

"Not a lot of organizations like this exist," Smith said.

Despite the rarity of the quilts, Smith said their impact is visible in the soldiers.

"The soldiers are at a crossroads in their military careers and their lives," he said. "The quilts signify that someone cares, and they reflect on the kinds of decisions that these wounded soldiers have to make."

Carroll said the group goes to Walter Reed every two weeks to present quilts.

"Each quilt has a label and a letter telling about our project," she said.

Carroll said she was touched when she went to Walter Reed this month.

"These soldiers will be paying this price for years to come," she said.

Smith said the moral support that comes from Miracle Quilts was overwhelming.

"It's a blanket of warmth, and that changes a soldier's mindset," he said.

But changing a soldier's mindset doesn't come cheap. Carroll said each quilt can easily cost $75 to $100 when materials and labor are considered.

"But they are absolutely gorgeous," she said of the lap-size and larger quilts.

Among the 100 plus members of the organization, Carroll said most quilters come from southeast Michigan, but they have acquired members from as far as Florida.

"It's so important to keep the memory of Joe and others like him alive," Carroll said. "We can't forget them. I won't let us."

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