CHURCH HILL — Pam Wiggins is recruiting volunteers.
Yes, like Uncle Sam in vintage military posters, Pam Wiggins wants you ... to join her.
Your mission, should you accept: show support and provide comfort, through that ultimate symbol of comfort — the handmade quilt, blanket or throw — for wounded American soldiers.
She’s trying to get the word out to our region’s quilters, sewers and crafters that there’s an organization that needs hand-made items to distribute to recovering U.S. soldiers as they prepare to come back stateside.
Wiggins calls the effort a “mission of love.”
And what shows love better than a homemade quilt?
“It’s something to sort of hold them over until they can get home to their families,” Wiggins said. “There’s a lot of love that goes into a quilt. They’ve given so much of themselves, it’s nice to be able to give them something of ourselves to let them know we are thinking about them.”
Wiggins said she was spurred on in her mission when she purchased a trinket on a recent trip to Gatlinburg. Inscribed on it was the phrase “Home of the free, because of the brave.”
“That’s the way I feel,” Wiggins said. “We’re free and able to do what we want to, because of these soldiers. They give pieces of themselves. And they need to know that we are still thinking about them and that we care.”
Wiggins attributes her son-in-law with inspiring her to try and draw local participation in what is a larger organized effort.
“Stephen (Skelton) is a major in the United States Army Reserve who was recently activated to serve with the 7th Army Reserve Command located in Kaiserslautern, Germany,” Wiggins said. “One of his many duties is visiting with wounded soldiers at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center (LRMC).”
Each month that hospital facility sees about 500 soldiers who are brought there directly from Iraq and Afghanistan, Wiggins said.
The soldiers stay at LRMC until they are healthy enough to continue their journey back to the United States where they will endure many more surgeries and rehabilitation.
“Before they leave there, they’re awarded a Purple Heart,” Wiggins said. “These soldiers are our sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, husbands, wives. My mission is to try and help an organization known as ‘Soldier’s Angels’ to make sure each and every one of these wounded soldiers has a piece of home to make their days brighter and literally warm their souls with all of our love.
“What we need is handmade quilts or throws — something that will let these young men and women know that we have not forgotten them, that we are proud of them, and without them, would not enjoy the freedom we experience.”
Wiggins provided the following, which can be found online along with more information at http://soldiersangels.org.
•To donate a handmade quilt to an American soldier (and, if you choose, a letter of your appreciation for what they have given for you), please address them to:
21st TSC, Medical Transient Detachment
ATTN: Soldiers’ Angels, MaryAnn Phillips
APO AE 09263
Blankets of Hope Guidelines
•Size: Minimum 45”x 60”, maximum 60” x 80”.
•Fabrics: Fleece or quilted cotton/flannel with batting.
•If using double-sided fleece, please finish the edges. If using single-sided fleece, please back with another fabric and tack with embroidery thread. If using purchased fleece blankets, please personalize with buttons, appliquÃ©, etc.
•“No-sew” blankets: Many people enjoy making these in groups. Online: www.exploringwomanhood.com/homelife/ideas/pom-jan03.htm.
•Fleece panels, perfect for the non-sewer, are available at various retailers.
•Colors: Most recipients are men. Bright/patriotic colors are good.
• Important: Roll (or fold) each blanket tightly, tie with a ribbon, and tag with a note: “Made with love and hope for your recovery by (your name) from Soldiers’ Angels.”
•You may include your e-mail address. Soldiers often contact quilt donors to express their thanks.
•Parcel post is fine.
•Save your postage receipts, which may be tax-deductible.
•Consider asking your local VFW, or other veterans’ organization to sponsor your project by paying for shipping.