Gary Buckland - Putnam Sentinel
Post Commander Gary Buckland displays the design on the lap blankets that were provided to area veterans. (Putnam Sentinel/Martin Verni)

OTTAWA — The veterans of Ottawa VFW Post 9142 brought Christmas cheer to their fellow soldiers living in area nursing homes. Working in conjunction with the Putnam County Veterans Services Commission as well as Nate Huber of Phantasm Designs in Ottawa and Jackie Schimmoeller of County Wide Designs in Kalida, the VFW delivered a package of gifts this past Thursday.

“This past summer or perhaps the fall, I was talking with Jackie,” says Ken Wehry of Ottawa’s VFW 9142. “I was thinking maybe we’d get the veterans hats and sweatshirts, or something like that. I was talking with her about the veterans and Christmas time, and Jackie suggested, ‘Why not do a lap blanket?’ She said her dad and other veterans always wanted a blanket so they could sit in their wheelchairs and have their legs covered. With a hat, everybody can use a hat, and everyone needs a blanket.”

Bob Kroeger, Veteran Service Officer for the Putnam County Veterans Service Commission explains his organization’s contribution, saying, “We provided the $50 gift card to Walmart for them to spend any way they would like.”

Schimmoeller created the US Armed Forces Veteran insignia and artwork for the hat and blanket. She then worked with Huber to have them printed on the hats and blankets in a timely manner. Schimmoeller’s father, a veteran, passed away this past year. She and Huber provided their services and the materials at cost, with both expressing a motivation to help give back to the veterans who have served us all.

For more than 10 years, the Ottawa VFW Post 9142 has delivered Christmas gifts to veterans in nursing homes throughout the area. As former VFW Commander Carl Maag put it, “Some of us are still pretty active, you know, even though we’re getting old. We’ve been blessed with a little extra time in our life.” He and his fellow VFW members hope that these veterans know just how important their service remains to their community.