Lakeland alumna’s hobby makes positive impact globally
Linda Wieck ’96 sewed a quilt in 2006 for her son-in-law to take on a military deployment to Iraq.
Today, more than 30,000 quilts later, Wieck’s work has almost covered the globe – or at least traveled it.
Wieck, the creator of the Camo Quilt Project, completed her Lakeland undergraduate degree in business administration part time while working full time at Kohler Co., raising three children with her husband, DuWayne, and doing quilting as a hobby.
She made the quilt for her son-in-law so he could have a little comfort from home while serving overseas. During his pre-deployment training, the small quilt, that was crafted to fold into thirds, roll up like a sleeping bag and meet required military standards, was so popular it generated 48 more requests from the unit. Wieck sewed them all herself in under three months.
And with that, the Camo Quilt Project was born. Based out of Plymouth, Wis., Camo Quilt remains a 100% volunteer-led organization that uses all donations for supplies and equipment.
In the early days, Wieck would hold training workshops so others could make the customized camouflage quilt. Volunteers packaged each quilt with information about the sewers and a signed, handmade card. At the height of the Global War on Terror, Camo Quilt shipped out 500 quilts per month.
As demand grew, so did Wieck’s vision.
“In order for us to move forward with our project, we needed a suitable facility to set up a permanent workshop,” she said. “At minimum, we needed warehouse space to receive and store large bolts of fabric and workspace that gave us enough room for cutting and sewing.
“I had the knowledge to make my vision a reality. Camo Quilt would not have come about if it wasn’t for my education at Lakeland.”
Within about two years from sewing her first Camo Quilt, she worked with Glacier Transit and Storage, which donated a facility where volunteers work. The space met Wieck’s vision and more.
Today, you’ll find a group of 30-35 volunteers working every Tuesday and Wednesday to accommodate requests, and, because overhead can remain low, quilts remain free of charge for soldiers and veterans.
In 2013, as new orders from deploying soldiers decreased, Wieck widened the mission of Camo Quilt.
Now, in addition to the quilt that started it all, volunteers craft patriotic lap quilts for homebound veterans and those in assisted living facilities, nursing homes and hospice. Unlike the standard camouflage quilt, each lap quilt is a unique design and includes fabric from the veteran’s branch of service.
Wieck’s work and commitment has been recognized by many organizations. In 2011, Wieck received an award on behalf of USA Weekend Magazine’s Make A Difference Day where she draped a quilt over award-winning recording artist Darius Rucker as part of their photo shoot. The Plymouth Chapter of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution awarded her a Service Award in 2015. Wieck was the 2016 Bryant Community Hero award winner for Sheboygan County, and last year was selected by AARP for the Andrus Award for Community Service for the State of Wisconsin.
Motivated by a generous heart and a servant-leadership approach, Wieck is quick to credit Camo Quilt’s volunteers, donors and supporters while continuing to support other organizations. Donations are accepted through Franklin American Legion Post 387, and she’s an active member of the Ladewig-Zinkgraf Post 243 Auxiliary. Extra materials and old sewing machines make their way to Nicaragua to assist in impoverished communities, and she’s even been known to still teach new quilters.
Through it all, she credits her educational foundation from Lakeland for her success.