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Marine Comfort Quilts offer solace for grieving family

Jan Lang of Missouri began the Marine Comfort Quilt Club when 18 members of her son's Marine unit were killed in Iraq.

Since then, she has sewn about 1,000 quilts for military families who have lost a soldier in battle.

One of those families is the Linden family of Detroit Lakes, whose son, Troy, was killed this summer in Iraq when a roadside bomb exploded near his Humvee.

"The quilt squares are from all over the country," MerryLee Linden said. "They're made by veterans, Marine moms, military moms."

Squares are made by anyone willing to help, including an 8-year-old girl who contributed a square that's now in Linden's quilt.

On Lang's Web site,, she asks for others to participate in the quilts with either monetary donations or producing the squares. That's something the Lindens plan on doing.

"It's a way for us to give back for another fallen soldier," Linden said.

This weekend, Linden's family is holding a Christmas party and family reunion. She contacted family members and hopes to have about 50 decorated quilt squares come out of the reunion. In all, she hopes the family will contribute 150 squares.

After washing, the squares should be 12-and-a-half inches square, while designs within should be no more than 11-inches square, to allow room to sew the pieces together.

By showing family members the quilt, they can get ideas for their own squares, Linden said.

"There's a diverse amount of messages on this quilt," she added.

And extending past the family, Linden said she would like to open up an invitation to the community to participate in the Marines Comfort Quilt Club.

Drop-off sites for quilt squares include Grace Lutheran Church from 8 a.m. to noon and Jerry's Optical in the Washington Square Mall.

Besides making quilt squares, Linden said that after the holidays, she plans to get a quilt kit and sew a quilt together as well.

That's another way for her to show her support for other military families.

Troy's quilt will be hung upstairs in a place of honor in the Linden home, along with other Army memorabilia.

The Comfort Quilt Club appears to need some help keeping up with the demand for quilt, and that's one reason MerryLee and her family wanted to get involved.

"We just thought it would be a neat thing to do," she said. "This is something I can actually get involved in and pay it forward."