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