Veterans, Volunteers
April 26, 2019

Cincinnati’s ‘Nifty Needles’ Volunteers Crochet a Special Blanket for 103-Year-Old WWII Veteran Jerry Leisring

Jerry Leisring is presented with the blanket during a bedside salute

Jerry Leisring, at center, with VITAS Admissions Liaison Carole Quackenbush and other members of the VITAS team.

Jerry Leisring, a 103-year-old WWII Navy veteran and VITAS patient, can add another chapter to his memoir about his wartime experiences: During National Volunteer Week in April, Jerry was presented with a specially labeled, crocheted military blanket during a bedside salute at Cottingham Retirement Community in Cincinnati.

The ceremony was thanks to the efforts of VITAS Admissions Liaison Carole Quackenbush and Nifty Needles, a group of Cincinnati volunteers and their “Operation We've Got You Covered” project.

A photo of Jerry in his sailor's uniform during his service days

A photo of Jerry from his service days.

It is one of many services VITAS provides to its veteran hospice patients.

On hand for the salute and presentation of the striking red blanket were Jerry’s son, daughter, grandson, members of the VITAS hospice team and Nifty Needles volunteers who hand-crafted the blanket.

Jerry donned his Navy veterans hat and talked about “My Memories of WWII,” the book he wrote after he returned home from the war.

“We did a bedside salute, and I presented Jerry with a veteran challenge coin, a certificate and the afghan made by Nifty Needles. The women who crocheted the blanket came, and it was very touching,” says Carole, who specializes in outreach to veterans. “A lot of cool things happened in one visit.”

Nifty Needles: Crafters Who Care

Perhaps coolest of all was Carole’s introduction to the Nifty Needles, the ladies’ auxiliary of the Cincinnati chapter of the Military Order of the Purple Heart, an organization for combat-wounded veterans. Carole was invited to join the order because her father earned two Purple Hearts for service during WWII, Korea and Vietnam.

Nifty Needles blankets bear a label with the name of the volunteer who created them

At her first Purple Heart meeting, she met the Nifty Needles volunteers, who crochet afghans for themselves and the group’s families as part of their “Operation We Got You Covered Project.”

“As I talked to these ladies, I asked if they had ever thought about donating some afghans for my veteran hospice patients,” she says. That simple question got things started.

Now, Nifty Needle-crocheted blankets that are donated to VITAS’ veteran patients carry both the “Operation We Got You Covered” label and a “Made specially for you by a VITAS volunteer” label.

Apply now to become a hospice volunteer >

Sewing volunteer Bonnie Weil at work on a blanket

Bonnie Weil, a member of Nifty Needles.

Volunteer Jane Polly works on a star-spangled blanket

Nifty Needles volunteer Jane Polly works on a star-spangled afghan.

Volunteer Kanda Redding crochets a red, white and blue blanket

Volunteer Kanda Redding also is part of Nifty Needles.

VITAS Admissions Liaison Carole Quackenbush with patient Jerry Leisring

Carole Quackenbush with afghan recipient Jerry Leisring.

VITAS honors veterans by serving them with expert care customized to their unique needs.


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