Since 1998, Beach Cities Health District (BCHD) Care and Aid for Patients (CAPS) volunteers have been a tight-knit group of volunteers crocheting and knitting blankets for people in hospice. The blankets are provided to patients in partnership with Providence Trinity Care’s Hospice program which, over the last several years expanded to include a special initiative to celebrate South Bay veterans for their service. This year, veterans at Providence, as well as veterans in BCHD’s Care management program, received the handmade blankets. Many blankets have been lovingly created and donated by this dedicated group of volunteers.
This fall, BCHD Volunteer Services invited the entire community to knit or crochet blankets for a special blanket drive for veterans. More than 100 blankets were donated by Veterans Day. Longtime CAPS Volunteer Melba Tovar led the collection effort. Myle Schwab from Providence Trinity Care came to pick up the blankets for veterans in Providence’s hospice program and the remaining blankets were held aside for BCHD’s Care Management clients who served. Each veteran that is part of BCHD's Care Management program received a blanket and a holiday gift bag filled with household items this year.
Volunteer Katie Perkins, who made a blanket and delivered bags to veterans, said “I’m so grateful for what members of the military and their families sacrifice for us Americans. I wouldn’t be able to live in this wonderful country if there weren’t people such as them willing to give their time and sometimes lives to keep America a free place. I feel the least I can do is crochet a blanket and deliver blankets and bags to these wonderful people. Happy holidays!”
One of the veterans who received his blanket through Providence Trinity Care’s program was a retired Sergeant First Class from the 187th airborne unit, Donald Johnson. Having grown up in St. Louis, Donald was just 17 years old when he joined the Army, serving in Korea and then fulfilling his dream of becoming a paratrooper by jumping out of a plane 16 times. He said, “I loved every minute of it!” When Donald received his blanket, he grinned from ear to ear and immediately wrapped it around his shoulders — he didn’t want to take it off.
Veteran Tom Young was another happy recipient of a blanket, “especially because of how chilly it has been recently,” he said. At age 19, Tom was drafted into the Army to serve in the Vietnam War. After his initial training at Fort Ord, he went to Fort Meade in Maryland and then to Aberdeen Proving Ground where he was trained to be a machinist.
Another veteran, Christopher Love, said of his blanket “it’s so nice! I will take it with me when it’s cold outside to keep me warm. It’s really appreciated!”
Seaman First Class Charles Wolford, who is both a Korean War and World War II veteran was another proud recipient of a blanket. His U.S. Naval days were spent as a radioman onboard the USS Cape Gloucester, which sailed to Nagasaki, Japan at the end of the war to gather troops who had been prisoners of war.
A special thanks goes out to the talented BCHD CAPS volunteers and everyone who knitted and crocheted blankets. Thank you to those who assisted with deliveries as well as Providence for helping with coordination. The hope for these blankets is that they bring a special warmth and comfort to our worthy veterans this holiday season.