When Capt. Jared Bondesson left for his first deployment to Iraq, his daughter, Lizanna, was only 4 months old.
"When he returned, she was afraid of him. They hadn't had the connection," said his wife, Lila.
Two deployments later, Mrs. Bondesson has found a way to bridge the gap during deployment and ease her husband's transition back into their lives through a program called Operation Kid Comfort.
"This is a national program of the Armed Services YMCA, and it was started at Fort Bragg (N.C.)," said Mrs. Bondesson, who is starting a chapter in Augusta at the Tobacco Road Family Y, which is also designated as an Armed Services YMCA.
"Before my husband went on his third deployment, there was a DVD we watched, and in it I could see these quilts," she said.
What made those baby quilts different were photographs of the deployed parent, which were on several of the squares. She did some research and learned about the program.
Lizanna, who is now 5 years old, and her 3-year-old sister, Lina, each have their own quilts with photos of their father. In some of them he is alone and in others he is holding them.
Lizanna also has one of the quilted pillows that are made for older children. The quilts are for toddlers and infants.
"They are well loved," Mrs. Bondesson said of her daughters' quilted items.
Mrs. Bondesson said she didn't know anything about quilting when she made her first one, so she teamed up with the Pieceful Heart Quilters, who meet each Thursday at St. Bartholomew's Episcopal Church in North Augusta.
Their expertise, she said, has guided her through the process.
Mrs. Bondesson said she plans to have a quilt workshop at the South Augusta Family Y next month. Workshops are scheduled from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. May 20 and May 31.
An informational meeting for spouses and family members will be held April 30 in the Olive Terrace housing area at Fort Gordon.
No time has been set yet, she said.
Members of the quilt guild will be helping, she said.
Mrs. Bondesson said the guild is looking for donations of fabric, batting and other supplies to make the quilts and pillows.
For more information, call (706) 922-9650 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
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