Stitching up Kindness: “Hero Bags” show appreciation to veterans

After attending a state meeting with Missouri VFW groups, Joplin Post 534 came home inspired to create a unique way to reach out to veterans in nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

Now they’re reaping what they’ve sewn, and hoping to expand.

When it comes to saying thank you, sometimes something small has a way of making a big difference.

“We have about 12 people helping out with the bags. The more the merrier, and it’s just on their time. We’re all busy. We all have still our home lives, but we try to do as much as we can when we can,” explained Kimberly Satini with Joplin VFW Post 534.

The group is new, but, so far, they’ve put together ten bags for veterans in nursing homes and assisted living facilities, with a goal of creating ten to twenty bags per month.

“We want to just continue and get further out to Webb City, or Carthage, or whoever just needs us.”

“One stitch at a time.”

Volunteers will tell you it’s *sew* simple, just grab some fabric and put your hands to work.

“It takes less time to put it together than it does to cut it out sometimes,” admitted Susie Williams, a sewing volunteer.

For this volunteer, as it is for so many, the work is personal.

“My dad is a vet and my ex husband is a vet. You know, you give to those that give to you.”

Inside each bag is an assortment of goodies, ranging from snacks to activity books, just a little way to show gratitude and hopefully form a connection.

“A lot of the vets in the nursing homes don’t have family around and sometimes they just need a visit,” said Santini.

Visits are something this navy veteran admits she could use more of.

“Our boys, one lives in Colorado Springs and ones in Salem, Oregon so I don’t see them much anymore, but we get together every once in awhile,” said Deloma “Sue” Ellison.

Ellison spends her days at the Silver Creek Assisted Living facility reflecting on old times.

“I joined the navy 21 years old. My dad didn’t want me to go, so I waited until I was old enough to do it.”

The galena, kansas native served from 1959 to 1962.

“I served on Andrews Airforce base and I got peoples flights out for hops and stuff like that and it was colonels above that we brought in, but we did everybody.”

Now Ellison is being honored for her service with a surprise: the first completed hero bag.

“We just want to thank you for your service,” expressed Satini.

“It’s real nice, I think it’s a good idea and it’s working out pretty good,” said Ellison.

Staff at Silver Creek hope the gesture of kindness is contagious.

“I think we’re going to hear more and more about our local VFW and hopefully they’ll set a movement for other townships to go ahead and get this going,” said Tiffany Black with Silver Creek Assisted Living.

It’s a movement that settles into a rhythm, creating a pattern just about anyone can follow.

“I just want to see joy, joy on our veterans face knowing that our community cares,” Satini said.

Ellison now plans on attending a POW-MIA dinner at the Joplin VFW Post, an invitation extended by Satini.

Silver Creek is arranging transportation.

If you’re interested in volunteering or have questions, you can contact Satini at 541-217-7702.

Donations of materials or items for hero bags can be delivered to VFW Post 534 at 110 E. Veterans Way, Joplin, MO.

Checks can be made payable to “VFW Auxiliary” in care of Satini. You can put “Hero Bags” in the memo.

Volunteers are willing to teach others to sew.

Members also ask that if you have a sewing machine you’re willing to donate, you bring it to the Post.

In addition, if you have the ability to sew at your home, Santini is willing to arrange transportation to pick up completed bags.

___

Get the latest local and national headlines straight to your email for free: Sign up here.