The problem: your military kids miss their deployed parent. Why you should keep reading: because this organization makes free personalized quilts for military kids! A deployment quilt from the ASYMCA makes deployments easier for kids
Deployments are hard on kids. No matter how old they are, they miss their deployed parent, and they often don’t understand why they are gone, or how long the deployment will last. Bedtime can be an especially challenging time, particularly if the deployed parent was usually involved in the bedtime routine. Did you know that there are people who volunteer their time and talents to make your kids more comfortable at bedtime? They create personalized quilts with pictures of your child and their deployed parent! They also make pillows for kids ages 8 and up. The quilts are just one of many things that military families can receive for free during deployment.
The program is called Operation Kid Comfort, and it is offered by the Armed Services YMCA (ASYMCA). The deployment quilts are FREE! It’s a nationwide program available at most military bases. If your spouse is deploying soon, or is already deployed, then contact your local ASYMCA. They can make one quilt for each child in the household who has not previously received one. They will ask you to email 7 photos of the service member for each quilt. Each photo MUST show the service member’s face (it can’t just be pictures of the child.) It can include pictures of just the service member (like in uniform) or without the child, such as a wedding photo. If you are pregnant but the service member hasn’t met the baby yet, you can include photos of just the service member.
The quilts take an average of 3 months to be sewn. It can sometimes be longer. All the work is done by volunteers. Each quilt will be custom, showing your child’s name, and the 7 photos you emailed them. You do not get to make choices about colors and styles. We recently received ours for the 3 younger kids (oldest child has one from her first deployment.) They are gorgeous! The quilts are usually not mailed, to save on shipping costs, so you typically have to pick them up at a location on base. But a shipping option may be available if you are not living near base for the deployment. You will receive the name of each volunteer who made a quilt for you so you can write a thank you note for each one.
Deployment quilts help connect children with their deployed parent
What are some good ways to use your Operation Kid Comfort quilt? Well, our kids have been carrying them around, curling up with them, sitting on them, and showing them off to friends. I can confirm that Operation Kid Comfort is certainly bringing my kids comfort and joy! The Kindergartner sleeps with his quilt on top of his covers, and says it is like Dad is giving him a huge hug. I draped the baby’s quilt over the side of her bed so she can look at the pictures. It is a good way to keep the baby connected to Daddy. She likes to point at it, and says ‘Daddy!’ with a huge smile. She also tells him, ‘Night – night Daddy’ when I tuck her in, and she gives kisses to each one of his pictures. It’s adorable! *Update* Even after deployment ended, she still asks for ‘Daddy’ to be draped on the side of the crib before she goes to sleep!
Want to learn more about getting a quilt or becoming a volunteer? Start by visiting the ASYMCA website to see if your quilt will come from your local base or from their headquarters. Contact information is provided for any area of the country. If you know someone who quilts and might like to volunteer, they can learn more about the thousands of other ASYMCA volunteers here. I hope that many others will be able to benefit from this great program that supports military families!