Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Blanketing veterans with compassion July 6, 2022

Jodi Frederick of the Minneapolis VA, left to right, and Jane Larson, Sharon Babcock and Lori Clausen of the Northfield-based DAR. (Photo courtesy of the DAR)

IT’S ONE THING TO EXPRESS gratitude to veterans with the words, “Thank you for your service.” It’s quite another to match those words with actions.

A patriotic-themed fidget blanket created by Sharon Babcock. (Photo courtesy of the DAR)

For a Northfield, Minnesota-based women’s service organization, caring for veterans, specifically those with disabilities, extends to doing something. Members of the Josiah Edson Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) created 80 fidget blankets for veterans and others struggling with Alzheimer’s or other disabilities. Most of the blankets were recently donated to the Minneapolis VA Medical Center with the rest given to area care facilities.

Fidget blanket crafted by Jane Larson. (Photo courtesy of DAR)

As the daughter of a Korean War veteran who spent time at the VA and as the daughter of a mother who lived many years in a care center, I feel personal gratitude to this group of compassionate seamstresses—Ellen Blume, Jackie Hunt, Jane Larson, Sharon Babcock, Sue Rew, Vicki Kline and Jean Nelson’s students in Indiana. They donated materials, time and talent to craft these lap-sized blankets which will help calm fidgety hands. They care.

Fidget blanket created by Ellen Blume. (Photo courtesy of DAR)

Individuals with Alzheimer’s experience restlessness and anxiety, often expressing that in constant hand movement. Fidget blankets provide sensory therapy, a way to keep hands occupied in a safe and soothing way with zippers, ribbons, ball fringe, buttons, lace, Velcro pockets and more.

A hearts full of love fidget blanket crafted by Sue Rew. (Photo courtesy of DAR)

At at time when I need, more than ever, to learn of the goodness of others, I feel uplifted by what this group has done, especially for our veterans. Members of the DAR, 185,000 members strong in 3,000 chapters across the U.S., focus on projects promoting historic preservation, education and patriotism. All members can trace their lineage to an individual who contributed to securing American independence during the Revolutionary War.

The Northfield chapter is two years into their fidget blanket project with plans to continue. I deeply appreciate their efforts, how their care and compassion extend beyond words into actions.

TELL ME: Are you familiar with fidget blankets? Are you part of a creative team that does something to help others? I’d like to hear.

Note: A special thank you to Jane Larson, member of the Josiah Edson Chapter of the DAR, for sharing this information and photos with me.


12 Responses to “Blanketing veterans with compassion”

  1. beth Says:

    these are both brilliant and beautiful


    I wasn’t familiar with fidget blankets. This would be a great project for people who sew and have leftover fabric and notions. I’ll keep this idea in mind for a group I’m in that likes to do service projects. Even those who don’t sew could help with cutting, picking out the fabric, etc. Thanks for the inspiration!

    • Colleen, how wonderful that you feel inspired by what these DAR women are doing to help vets and others. Jane really deserved the thanks for alerting me to her chapter’s project. I was happy to share about it.

  3. Jane Sarles Larson Says:

    Thank you Audrey for writing such a personal and meaningful story around our project. You’re right when you said to me, “it’s always about the story.” Your story brings to life the reason why our Fidget Squad does what we do.

  4. I have seen these homemade for babies to learn how to zip, tie, etc. and that have different textures. I did not think about these types of things for adults. Wonderful and Creative Idea! I will share this with my mom since she is always into crafting and maybe some other people in her community love crafting too. Have plenty of senior and veteran service clubs here. Great idea for all ages and keeping those fine motor skills tuned. I know I spend most of my day on a keyboard, mouse or a phone in hand and believe in exercising, massaging, strengthening my fingers, hands, wrists, etc. Every bit helps for sure. Thanks so much for sharing – Enjoy your day 🙂

  5. Wonderful work by a historic group! A special thanks from a veteran who knows that these will be greatly appreciated at the VA!

  6. Jackie Hemmer Says:

    I have never heard of fidget blankets, what a wonderful loving gift these ladies are providing!

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