CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — One Sinton local made it her mission to honor veterans with a 'hug' they could take home.
The celebration Tuesday was filled with emotion of pride, respect, and awe.
Leah Spencer, group leader of South Texas Quilts of Valor, creates specially made quilts that ensure each veteran feels appreciated in a way that will never fade away.
"It's just an honor to give them that hug. It's like a symbol of a hug. And a thank you," Spencer said.
After 49 years, Vietnam era veterans finally had their welcome home celebration, but a celebration isn't complete without a gift.
"Some of them can't even talk, it's just tears," Spencer said. "They'll talk to you through tears, whispering, 'thank you,' they're so thankful to be recognized. I mean this is years later from Vietnam, and we're still showing them thank you."
Some veterans were so astonished by their quilts that it resonated in their eyes.
"It brings them to tears, and you get goosebumps and it brings you to tears with them," Spencer said.
While the quilt is a gift that extends beyond service, Spencer said that making them is a team effort that becomes a timely process.
"So what happens, is I do the quilt top, and then it gets sent off across the state to volunteers who do the long-arming, sandwiching the quilts together," Spencer said. "They mail it back to me to put the binding on it and the label on it and finish it. So it's a group effort."
Joe Elizondo was overjoyed to see the quilts from Spencer, and commemorated her hard work and service to veterans.
"To be very honest with you, the lady that made all those blankets for the wonderful veterans, that was outstanding," Elizondo said.
While Spencer happily does her quilting, she has a medical condition called mass cell activation, which makes her allergic to normal every day things like water, heat and the cold.
"I have to stay on IV drugs to prevent those reactions from happening," Spencer said. "I have an IV in my chest, and I'm hospitalized a lot because of it."
At the end of the day Spencer wants everyone to know that the act of service can extend to anyone, regardless of profession.
"Everyone's like, Leah, how do you have time to do this, you're in the hospital a lot. And I tell them, turn off your tv, and go do something!"
To learn more about Quilts of Valor South Texas, visit their Facebook page here: @qovsouthtexas
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