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BY LAURA SCHLABACH
ELKHART -- Garold Dull builds sewing machines -- but not for himself or his family. He builds and repairs them for inmates at Wabash Valley Correctional Facility, who use them to sew quilts.
"They're very beautiful quilts, they've put a lot of time and effort into them," said Dull.
Inmates at Wabash Facility have the chance to participate in Purposeful Living Units Serve program (P.L.U.S.). Rich Larsen, public information officer at Wabash Facility, describes the 16-month program as "a faith and character based housing unit, with emphasis placed on community service." Larsen said the program includes classroom-type activities and close work with volunteer programs.
For many at the prison, P.L.U.S. means quilt production.
"They're almost doing it around the clock," Dull said. "They get started and they just don't want to quit." Inmates sewed 500 quilts over the past two months.
Garold's time investment in P.L.U.S. helps make production of this many quilts possible, as he has fixed and donated to the program over 20 sewing machines to date.
"He goes down (to Wabash), picks up machines and repairs them," said Barbara Dull, Garold's wife. "He looks for heavy duty, straight-stitch machines for these guys."
Although Garold and Barbara's first trip to Wabash Facility was 11 years ago, Garold first became involved with quilt making and the P.L.U.S. program in 2007. Working with sewing machines has been one of Garold's hobbies for more than 30 years.
In addition to providing sewing machines, Garold helps embroider the names of fallen soldiers from Indiana into "honorary quilts." According to Garold, a Vietnam veteran himself, the embroidered emblem on these quilts includes the soldier's unit and the words "Honor," "Duty" and "Courage." Honorary quilts are then given to the soldier's family.
Wall quilts are created in addition to honorary quilts and regular quilts.
"[The inmates] make special quilts for raffling," said Gerald. "Those are real decorative, with stars and all types of patterns."
Last year, the P.L.U.S. program at Wabash created between 300 and 400 quilts, 200 of which were donated to social services and Veterans Administration of Indianapolis. This year, the Dulls read an article in The Elkhart Truth about the need for blanket donations and were inspired to distribute quilts locally.
"We have 25 to give to Disabled American Veterans Chapter 19, and 25 for social services in Elkhart," said Garold, who delivered quilts to Individuals and Families in Transition Thursday morning.
The desire to enable others drives Garold's involvement.
"I'm helping someone to help someone else," he said.