Blankets for Veterans, a non-profit organization created by a 17-yr-old in Wisconsin, made it to a local Valley Winter Texan Park last season. Autumn Acres resident, Kathy Hanson, is the proud grandmother of Aubree Leitermann, the founder of the organization. Leitermann, who visited Hanson recently, was able to give some of the blankets that were made by Hanson, and others, to Veterans in the park.
Leitermann, Hanson says, has always been interested in how people were making big differences doing small, simple good deeds. It didn’t take long for her granddaughter to find out what deed she could do to bring smiling faces to an important group of people.
In 2014, Leitermann’s aunt worked for an air medical transport company. Leitermann was told by her aunt how she was helping to transport older Veterans to their homes. Her grandfathers were Veterans that served in the Army, Navy and Air Force, so she knew the sacrifice these Veterans made and how important they were. She felt even though she was ten she could make a difference in their lives. She took her savings that year and made tie blankets for her aunt to give to the Veterans. Her mom then shared what her daughter did on her Facebook page.
Instantly, friends of her mom wanted to donate money so she could keep making more blankets to give to Veterans. The more people heard about what she was doing, the more they wanted to help.
In January 2015, the first community blanket making event was held. In just two hours, the people at the event, made 70 blankets. An event is now held every year in her hometown. Money for the blankets is donated by Veteran groups, companies, individuals and even those that have already received blankets.
Aubree has received several awards including ones from Wisconsin governor’s wife, Obama, and will be receiving an award from Biden for her numerous hours of service recognizing Veterans.
The blankets are fairly simple to make. They are made of two separate pieces of fleece, each one and one-half yards. They are matched up and a 5”X5” piece of each corner is removed, and one-inch slits are cut around the blanket. The matched lengths are tied together around all four sides melding the two together into one blanket. No sewing is required. It takes one person approximately one and one-half hours to complete a blanket.
Due to COVID, this year’s blanket making event on February 28th was done virtually on Zoom allowing her grandmother Kathy Hanson, and Great Aunt Judi Jansen, to attend. Grandma Kathy missed attending the event in person when she became a Winter Texan in 2020.
It makes Aubree happy to see the smiles on the Veterans, said Hanson. It makes her feel connected to Veterans that served long before she was born and gives her and others a chance to show their appreciation to those that served.
In late March, Autumn Acres allowed Aubree to present Darrel Waters, 91, who served in the Army from 1951-1954, and Darrel Hoffman, also 91, who served as a Marine from 1952-1955 with blankets made by Hanson and Jansen.
The ladies hope to gather again next year to make blankets here in Texas when Aubree is hosting her blanket making event in Wisconsin.
Each blanket is made special with a tag attached that says, “Thank you for your service to our country. Here is a small token of appreciation for you to enjoy.” The tag is also signed by everyone who helped make that blanket.
You can check out Aubree’s Facebook page “Aubree’s Blankets for Veterans” for more information or to donate.
Photo of Aubree and Darrel Hoffman