When Oxford’s varsity football players take the field against the Clarkston Wolves on Friday, Sept. 22, they’ll be doing more than just racking up yards, making tackles and putting points on the board.
The Wildcats will be honoring all the brave, selfless men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces by wearing special blue-and-gold camouflage jerseys bearing the names of servicepeople, both past and present. Game time is 7 p.m.
It’s all part of a fund-raiser for Miracle Quilts, a local nonprofit group started by Addison resident Carole Carroll.
Founded in 2009, Miracle Quilts makes quilts for troops wounded on the battlefield, veterans who are hospitalized or fighting illnesses, veterans in retirement homes, and the children of veterans and active-duty personnel.
These quilts, which provide warmth, comfort and hope to those facing difficult times, are both hand-delivered and mailed all over Michigan, across the country and overseas to hospitals in Germany and Afghanistan.
“Some of the men cry,” Carroll said. “First, they’ll ask me if these quilts are for sale and I’ll say, ‘No, they’re a gift to you for your service to our country,’ and they just tear up. They can’t believe a complete stranger comes in and gives them a beautiful quilt.”
Miracle Quilts is named for Private First Class Joseph Miracle, a 2003 Brandon High School graduate who was killed by enemy fire in Afghanistan on July 5, 2007.
Carroll estimated the group has made “close to 5,000” quilts over the last eight years. Last year alone, Miracle Quilts sewed more than 850 quilts.
“I’m so busy with this,” she said. “I’m spending like 60 (to) 70 hours a week on this . . . My only problem is there’s just not enough hours in the day.”
Quilters in 11 states, including Michigan, contribute their time and talents to Miracle Quilts.
“I know in Michigan, we have over 100,” Carroll noted. “We do quality work. I’m real pleased with what comes out of this group.”
Making and mailing all these quilts isn’t cheap.
According to Carroll, the average twin-size quilt requires about $100 to $150 in materials.
“Cotton, in the past three to four years, has gone up like 75 percent,” she said. “Stuff that I used to get for $2.99 a yard is now like $10, $11, $12 a yard.”
Fortunately, Carroll knows where to find deals and how to work every conceivable angle, from coupons to buying wholesale.
“I have a Ph.D in shopping,” she joked.
On top of materials, there’s shipping costs.
“I just took 10 quilts to the Lake Orion Post Office to ship to Landstuhl, Germany and it came to like $65,” she said.
That’s where this football fund-raiser comes in.
All of the camouflage jerseys were purchased by players’ families and community members as a way to honor loved ones who either have served or are currently serving in the military.
The jerseys, made by Sports Addix based in Lowell, Michigan, cost $65 each and “$15 of that goes directly to Miracle Quilts,” according to Domonique Call, the fund-raiser’s organizer and wife of Assistant Varsity Football Coach Matt Call.
“It’s just the coolest charity,” she said. “Oxford football wants to give back and I thought what a great combination.”
Call is grateful to Sports Addix for keeping the cost of the jerseys “low,” so that “we could raise more money for the charity.”
In addition to jersey sales and t-shirt sales to fans, Oxford cheerleaders and dance team members will be rushing into the stands to collect donations from spectators between the first and second quarters, then again between the third and fourth quarters. These periods will be called “Miracle Minutes.”
“I’m hoping people will come out to the game and be ready to empty their pockets,” Call said.
Miracle Quilts will have a display set up at the game. Carroll plans to raffle off a quilt that night. The drawing will be held during halftime.
Following the game, Oxford players will go out onto the field and present their jerseys to the veterans, active-duty servicepeople or families they represented that night, according to Call.
Call became aware of Miracle Quilts through her husband’s late grandmother, Helen Call, who volunteered for the group for six or seven years and lived at Independence Village of Waterstone, a 145-unit retirement community in Oxford.
Miracle Quilts holds a work day at Independence Village (701 Market St.) on the second Saturday of the month from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Retirement community residents and volunteers from the outside gather to create colorful quilts.
“People want to do something, but they don’t necessarily know how to connect with a veteran. This is a way to share your warmth,” Carroll said.
On any given Saturday, Carroll said there are as many as 30 to 35 people just working away together like a well-oiled machine, “which is amazing.”
“It looks like a sweatshop when you come in,” she joked.
Miracle Quilts doesn’t put any restrictions on its quilters. They’re allowed to be as creative as they want. “We take any size, any shape, any color,” Carroll said.
For those folks who aren’t so handy with a needle and thread, don’t worry, there are other ways to lend a hand. “We have jobs for people that don’t sew. They can (iron). They can cut (material),” Carroll said.
Carroll is “very, very grateful” to Independence Village for allowing Miracle Quilts to work there. “I just can’t stress enough how wonderful they’ve been to me throughout the years,” she said. “They let me store stuff and they let us meet and they don’t charge me any rent.”
To contact Carroll, call (248) 321-8669 or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.