HARKER HEIGHTS, Texas — According to the United Nations, more than 10 million people have fled or been displaced in the war-torn country of Ukraine. The UN Refugee Agency reports around 13 million people are believed to be stranded in the country due to security risks and damaged infrastructure.
After spending some time in Ukraine when her husband was on active duty, seeing the images of the crisis in Ukraine broke Laura Winckel's heart.
Laura Winckel said, "When I see the rubble, I remember seeing those buildings before they were rubble. Ukraine was a beautiful country with lots of history and colors, it all just gone."
Being a mother herself, her heart ached for the children fleeing everything they know and love. Their peace was stripped away by war in their own backyard.
"It makes me cry. Most of these children only have the clothes on their backs and what they could put in little backpacks," said Winckel.
If you would like to help Winckel out you can reach out here or give her a call at (254) 681-8239. Winkel is now looking for bluebonnet fabric, so she can send off a piece of Texas to Ukraine.
She wanted to help but didn't know where to start until she saw a Facebook post by a fellow quilter, Claudia Pfeil in Germany. Pfeil was requesting help to make quilted blocks, which she would turn into handmade blankets for the smallest Ukrainian refugees.
But on the other side of the world in Harker Heights, Texas, every piece, every stitch, is a prayer for peace.
Winckel said, "It breaks my heart, but it also helps my heart to know that somebody is a total stranger is saying I care."
Laura Winckel has been a quilter for decades. Connecting her craft with Claudia Pfeil, a quilter in Germany, she makes blankets for Ukrainian refugees.
"I just put a spontaneous call out on Facebook, and I started a tsunami- a blue and yellow tsunami. Everyone has the possibility to do something, what we can do sewing quilts, quilting, collecting fabric," Pfeil said.
Winckel immediately got to work. Taking time out of her workday as the owner and founder of Quality Quilts by Laura, to help out.
"We call it Claudia's Army of volunteers. We may not be able to go over there and we may not know where to send anything and ask what to do or will it go to those people if I send money to these organizations? Trust me these are going on the children," said Winckel.
Winckel has since put out a call to her own Facebook friends to lend a hand. She's received quilted blocks from as far as New York. As she plans her next shipment to Pfiel and works longer hours, the pictures of the smiling children keep her going. Her right-hand woman, Dianne Larson, remains by her side every step of the way.
Larson said, "I love the kids and I want to help the kids out."
"It gives the children peace; it settles them, and it makes him feel like I said that people care. The world cares," said Winckel.
Winckel, Larson, and over 400 creatives worldwide have created over 7,000 thousand quilting blocks, making over 300 completed for quilts, and counting.