As the USA honored all its veterans on Veterans Day, PAX Sound of Freedom, the St. Mary’s County chapter of Quilts of Valor, honored two local veterans for their service to the country and their generosity to the St. Mary’s chapter by providing financial support and allowing the group to hold monthly business meetings and quilt presentations in their facility.

Matthew Budde, a 20-year Navy retiree, and his business associate, David Stathem, a four-year Air Force veteran, were presented with Quilts of Valor in Lexington Park.

Budde joined the Navy as a 17-year old and retired as a chief petty officer. He served in Italy and Germany, and at the U.S. Naval Academy and White House, and retired from Naval Air Station Patuxent River.

Stathem served a four-year stint in the Air Force at Johnson Air Force Base in North Carolina and is currently employed by a government contractor at Pax River.

Nationally, Quilts of Valor began in 2003 by Catharine Roberts at her home in Seaford, Del., during her son’s deployment to Iraq. Her son’s deployment inspired her to come up with a means to welcome returning troops, including her son, to ensure they knew and felt the love and gratitude of our grateful citizens. Quilts of Valor is an established nonprofit with a mission to support veterans.

Roberts’ idea swept across the country and the local chapter in St. Mary’s County was created as PAX Sound of Freedom. The group started its activities in 2017 and between 2017 to 2019, 94 quilts were presented to veterans but approximately 40 veterans are still on the waiting list.

COVID-19 related restrictions have limited the ability to raise funds. In previous years the two big opportunities to fundraise were the St. Mary’s County Fair and the U.S. Oyster Festival (both were canceled in 2020).

The generosity of the men honored with quilts today, the Navy League, St. Mary’s Knights of Columbus and individual contributions have made it possible for PAX Sound of Freedom to purchase fabric, battings and backs to continue its mission in the county.

The PAX Sound of Freedom group is headed by Sylvia and Gerry Lague, group leaders; Eileen Jones, secretary; and Cecilia Cooney, treasurer. At the current time the group has 20 active participants.

Sew-ins are held on the second Saturday of each month (excluding December) at St. George’s Catholic Church in Valley Lee from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Presentations are held on the third Saturday of the month at 2 p.m. at Trinity Lutheran Church in Lexington Park, with additional presentations made on the fourth Saturdays in Lexington Park. Special arrangements can be made in advance for personal presentations.

For more information regarding Quilts of Valor, or to participate in the group’s activities, please contact Sylvia Lague at 941-705-0094.