Back in December, I accompanied my good friend Gene Krhin, a World War II veteran, to a holiday party for veterans at the Eagles Club in Lake Hallie.
At some point during the event, I noticed a large quilt that took my breath away. It was hard to miss the American flag in the center of the quilt, with a giant bald eagle soaring toward it.
The bulk of the remaining quilt was sky blue, with a red border surrounding it. In the sea of blue, the names of the five branches of the U.S. armed services — Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marines and Navy — were stitched, along with “Home of the Brave” and “Land of the Free.”
White stars and images of 33-cent stamps depicting the evolution of the “Stars and Stripes” alternated around the red border.
Being the daughter of a U.S. Air Force veteran and granddaughter of an Army Air Corps veteran, I wanted a chance at winning that quilt. Unfortunately, tickets for that raffle weren’t for sale that night.
I forgot about the quilt until a little over a week ago when I got a message at my part-time job to call Debbie Steinke. Considering the paper her note was written on included an image of the quilt, I was intrigued.
Debbie and her husband, Dale, live in Chippewa Falls. From 1966-69, he served in the U.S. Navy on the submarine, the USS George Washington. For about the past 10 years he’s been involved in American Legion Post 77.
Knowing the Post’s home at 12 E. Spring St., needs a new roof, the couple approached Donna Turbyne at the Chippewa Falls Senior Center, where they volunteer each week to help with meals and Turbyne meets with quilting groups.
“We thought raffling a quilt would be a real good campaign for the roofing project,” Dale said.
“We have seen the quilts that Donna has made before, and they were amazing,” Debbie said. “She is such a dedicated person to the military, so we took it upon ourselves to ask if she would do this.”
Turbyne, whose family has a long history of military service, readily agreed.
The Chippewa Falls woman began quilting at age 3 when she used to sit underneath a quilt in the making and push the needle back through to the top. She started sewing at 6.
In the past, Turbyne has made quilts for others, including area veterans and veterans groups.
“I never make two alike,” Turbyne said with a chuckle. “That’s no fun.”
The Steinkes were amazed when they saw her latest masterpiece.
“To plan that out and put it together,” Dale said. “It was just so amazing that (Donna) was able to do that.”
Debbie actually cried when she saw the finished product. In addition to her husband, her grandfather and father served in the Navy during World War I and World War II, respectively, and her uncle was in the Army for 25 years.
“It was far greater than I ever expected,” Debbie said.
Debbie has started selling tickets for the upcoming quilt raffle. (And, yes, I have tickets.) The drawing will be at 7 p.m. on Flag Day, June 14, at the Post. The quilt will be the top prize, followed by cash prizes of $200 and $100.
Harry Bauer, post commander, is hopeful the raffle generates $3,500 to $4,000 for the roof project, which is anticipated to cost much more. In addition to repair work, the roof needs to be reshingled.
“Donna was gracious enough to do this, and we can’t thank her enough,” Bauer said.
Turbyne is quick to deflect his praise.
“This isn’t about me,” she said. “It’s about the veterans.”
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Tickets are on sale for a raffle to benefit the American Legion Post 77 roofing project.
Tickets: $5 each or five for $20. Tickets can be purchased by calling Debbie Steinke, 715-271-5861. Tickets also will be available at the 10th District’s spring conference, hosted by Post 77, on April 20-22.
Prizes: First, a queen-size patriotic quilt made by Donna Turbyne of Chippewa Falls; second, $200; and third, $100.
Drawing: 7 p.m. on Flag Day (June 14), American Legion Post 77, 12 E. Spring St., Chippewa Falls. Ticket holders don’t need to be present to win.