Photo credit: Emily Droege

Story originally published by the Pawhuska Journal-Capital.

Jody Bracken owned a pawn shop for nearly 30 years before she made her lifelong dream come true: running a quilt shop. After renovating a building in Barnsdall, Oklahoma, she sought out other quilters to fill the space, and so was born the Heartland Quilters. Now a decade later, the group is much more than women who share a love for sewing, they are family.

"I enjoy the camaraderie and you get to know everybody and their family and what they're doing," Heartland Quilters' member Sally Williams told the Pawhuska Journal-Capital. "You hear their travel tales and of course the aches and pains."

The women spend their time making quilts for soldiers at the Tulsa Vet Center. The quilts vary in color and each have a Heartland Quilters patch sewn on. In addition to the quilt, the group writes each soldier a letter thanking them for their service. More than 900 quilts have been donated in the last six years.

"I just wanted to do something fun and benefit somebody," Bracken said.

Each of these women come from different backgrounds, but their passion for sewing unites them under a tight-knit bond. With all different ages involved in the group, there is no shortage of creativity and dedication.

"Quilters are so helpful and if you have a problem and go to a guild, they'll show you how to do it," said Phyllis Cummins, a member of the Piecemakers Quilt Guild who also donates to the Tulsa Vet Center. "It's nice that everybody takes care of everybody else. They are there to help you."