How Operation Kid Comfort Helped My Military Family: Part 2

Written by Jeanine Rickman

The countdown to deployment had already begun. Burdened with the weight of a lengthy checklist and a limited time, my husband and I were overjoyed that we had something positive to look forward to. We were thankful that the Armed Services YMCA (ASYMCA) has a program like Operation Kid Comfort that provides beautiful handmade quilts to children of deployed service members.


Operation Kid Comfort Countdown

We never imagined how much of an emotional journey having this deployment blanket made for our son would be. We had a glimpse of these heartfelt emotions when we were going through the photos. We felt the anticipation of surprising our son with the quilt as the pickup date approached. Our son only knew we would pick up something to help him during his dad’s deployment.

We were eager to pick up the quilt but had waited until my husband had time to go with us. Throughout the one-hour drive from San Diego to Camp Pendleton, our son was chatting away in the back seat, trying to get us to give him more clues We laughingly avoided his questions. And the trip passed quickly.

When we entered the building, the program coordinator was there to greet us. She was just as excited as we were as she bent down to our son’s level to ask him if he knew why he was there. He shyly told her that he only knew it had something to do with his daddy’s deployment. She explained that they had made something special for him, something that would help a child cope with deployment. She pulled out a carefully folded blanket and then held it open so he could see all of the beautifully quilted squares.

He noticed that it had Pokémon on the border immediately. He exclaimed excitedly about the pattern. He recognized his name. It took him a bit longer to realize the images on the quilt were pictures of him and his father. All those silly smiling moments were captured in a blanket. He asked question after question about “how did they know his name… his favorite colors, that he loves Pokémon.? How did they get pictures of him with his dad and family?” We told him that we had helped them, but he was still surprised at how personalized this quilt was. It was just for him and perfectly matched his personality. He wrapped him up in it and he stayed with it during pictures and the car ride home.


Who Knew a Quilt is How to Help a Child Cope with Deployment?

We were not quite prepared for how real it made the quickly approaching deployment feel. Our son was so excited to share his quilt with others. He hid it behind his back to share it with his sister, friends, and cousin. I listened as I heard him explaining what he thought of the deployment. He used the quilt as a tool to help him explain what was happening, how he felt, and how that blanket would help him. I was proudly teary-eyed as I realized just how calm and brave he was at that moment.

Our little guy has slept with that quilt every night since it was given to him. I have found him dragging it around and curling up with it in quiet corners.

It wasn’t until my husband went to go on an errand that our son asked if this was it; if this was when his daddy left on deployment. We thought we had done a great job explaining but hadn’t thought he had just been waiting for it to come any day. I’m thankful we were able to have that conversation sooner than later. I’m even more grateful, that Operation Kid Comfort and other ASYMCA programs which focus on resilience made that conversation so much easier.

He is using the deployment blanket exactly as intended! The quilt even came with a cute letter with instructions and endearing words of encouragement:

My name is K.C. That stands for Kid Comfort. Actually, my full name is Operation Kid Comfort, but you can call me K.C.! So, I am a quilt and I know I am not supposed to talk but I just wanted to let you know how special you are. I can only imagine how hard it must be for you to not see your Daddy/ Mommy every day. I hope I can help with that; just look at me! There are pictures all over me!

I want you to know that it’s okay to hurt and it’s okay to cry. You can drag me around as much as you like. Sleep on me, cover yourself up with me, and hug me! I promise that I’ll stay with you and help you get through these tough times. You also do not have to worry about getting me dirty. I like being washed in cold water, but be careful, use mild detergent with the gentle cycle and let me air dry. So, get ready to enjoy me!

Lastly, I want to let you know that lots of awesome people who helped make me are thinking special thoughts about you and your Daddy/Mommy. These amazing group of people who cut the fabric printed all your pictures, and some very special people who sewed me together got me ready so that I could belong to you and YOU only!

Have fun with me and know that your Daddy/Mommy is always thinking about you and wishes, as much as you do, that he could be with you right now.

Your buddy,


It Takes a Quilting Village

We are a family that practices gratitude daily by discussing how people help each other. Telling our son about his deployment blanket, included sharing how many people contributed to make programs like this possible. I learned that the ASYMCA has dozens of quilters who generously donate supplies, time, and considerable skills to create quilts for Operation Kid Comfort. They work diligently to create custom quilts for each military child.

While we made a sentimental thank you card for the quilter who volunteered her time, words were not enough. We also slipped in a drawing by our son of him and his dad, but it still didn’t seem enough to express our gratitude. I am so thankful that the Armed Services YMCA has this program and truly grateful to all the wonderful volunteers who make these beautiful quilts possible. It is so much more than a quilt and memento. It is a tool for building resilient military kids. We hope many other military families can make an Operation Kid Comfort quilt request and experience this wonderful gift.


Continue the Comfort

You don’t need to be a quilter to help provide comforting deployment blankets to military children with deployed active duty service members. With your generous donations, you can support programs like Operation Kid Comfort and help military families when they need it most.



Join Jeanine and her family in their Operation Kid Comfort journey: