‘Stitches’ to injured soldiers
Knitted gifts are their ‘way to help’By Meghan Van Dyk Daily Record
Maureen Moniz knew when she learned how to nit at age 6 that the skill would come in handy to stitch scarves, sweaters and blankets as gifts for loved ones.
But she never thought her handiwork would be worn by wounded American soldiers overseas.
Decades later, Moniz now collects and ships handmade blankets, Afghans, knapsacks and cast socks to troops at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany.
Her effort is on behalf of the Madison-based Stitches of Love, part of the Landstuhl Hospital Care Project (LHCP), a larger program that supplies the U.S. military hospital with every thing from toothpaste to clothing to lab equipment.
“I was looking for a way to help, and I was thinking I could do something for our troops,” sand Moniz who lives in Convent Station. “LHCP looked great because I knew I could knit.”
Stitches of Love has about 90 members in the United States, Germany and Israel. Moniz collects and ships between 15 and 25 blankets every month. She has knitted 10 of her own since she became coordinator in August.
Stitched to each blanket is a tag that reads “With my deepest gratitude and respect. Thank you for your service,” Moniz said. “They are like an emotional hug to each soldier.”
Knitters are asked by the organization to be creative and to keep in mind that recipients will be mostly males- meaning no pin, red or lace, Moniz said.
This month’s shipment will include 11 quilts made by a group from the Defense Language Institute in California. Thirty, 6-inch squares of fabric, each featuring a drawing or note to the troops, are sewn together to form 3 foot by 5 foot blankets.
The quilts this month are being sent in honor of Specialist Ross McGinnis, 19, of Knox, Pa., who died in Baghdad after smothering a grenade to save his battalion.
“It’s hard not to think about who the recipients will be when you’re making them,” Moniz said. “Many are children who don’t have their mothers. I am eternally grateful there are young men and women who leave home so my daughter can be with me.”
The boxes are donated by Pack Ship N More in Madison and the shipping costs are donated by Moniz’s husband Joe’s electrical contracting business. Moniz wished to keep the company’s name anonymous.
Although it’s difficult to quantify how many wounded troops are touched by LHCP, Founder and President Karen Grimord estimates more than 2,000 received some form of help from the organization last month alone.
Grimord started LHCP after noticing the hospital’s lack of videos and DVD’s to entertain recovering troops during a 2004 visit.
When she returned, she collected more than 400.
Then, she learned there was a lack of underwear, then shoes and sweat suits.
“From day one, I was born on a military base to a military family,” Grimord said, fighting back tears. “I know what (the troops) go through, how they feel.
To do this little bit for them, compared to what they’re doing for us–so many people take it for granted–it’s the least I can do.”
Grimord collects supplies from her home in Stafford, VA. With help from volunteers from the American Legion, the ROTC and even her husband Brian Grimord ships an average of 2,300 pounds of supplies to the German hospital each week.
For Grimord and Moniz, there is no end in sight.
Even when the troops come home, LHCP will continue to support U.S. troops at home in local Veteran Affairs hospitals nationwide, Grimord said.
Moniz, a retired infant care nurse, now runs her husband’s electrical contracting business. She also volunteers to cook soup for the homeless at St. Vincent Martyr Church in Madison and translates books into Braille for the American Red Cross Metro Chapter of N.J. in Fairfield.
“I’d like to see a world where we need no blankets, where there are no wounded soldiers,” Moniz said. “But as long as there are we’ll be here.”
CORRECTION TO ARTICLE Printed
Stitches of Love (LHCP) ships more that 2,300 pounds of supplies each month to hospitals in Germany, Iraq and Afghanistan. The locations were incompletely reported.