How Operation Kid Comfort Helped My Military Family: Part 3

Written by Jeanine Rickman

In the first part of my Operation Kid Comfort story, I shared how this program became available nationwide, offering solace to military families like ours. Now, I want to delve deeper into its impact, not just on us, but on the broader military community.

Comfort When It’s Needed Most

As we stood on the pier, our hearts full of farewells, my son and I waited for the ship carrying our hero to set sail. We weren’t alone; we were surrounded by families from my husband’s command. The moment was both heartwarming and bittersweet. It was here that we experienced the support of organizations like the Armed Services YMCA (ASYMCA) and other non-profits, that are dedicated to supporting military families when they need it most.

They provided crafts and entertainment, creating a space of joyful distraction for the children. They also offered heartfelt smiles to spouses and parents, who during these challenging times, needed an extra dose of kindness as they sent off their loved ones.

Among these activities, my son crafted a sign for his dad. His attention to detail was extraordinary! Encouraged by the ASYMCA staff, he even started a “welcome home” sign for when his daddy returns. He also shared the story of this quilt, a comforting keepsake adorned with pictures of his dad that he can keep close to him.


The Challenge of Emotions

My son, who grapples with a learning difference, often finds it hard to manage and express his emotions. The quilt from Operation Kid Comfort has been more than a comfort object; it has become a tool for him to communicate his feelings about his father’s deployment. I am immensely proud of his progress and how he uses the quilt to cope and connect.


Weaving a Community Together

Sometimes, with all the moves and long periods of separation due to deployments, it is easy for military families to feel isolated. The personalized quilts through Operation Kid Comfort are a tangible symbol of the amazing supportive community available to military families.

Military children can wrap up in a comfortable blanket that represents the love of their family. With these quilts, we have a visual reminder of the love and sacrifices that are so intricately woven into military life. These quilts do more than comfort our military children during deployments, they remind us that we are not alone.


It Truly Takes a Quilting Village

The enthusiasm and dedication of ASYMCA volunteers in supporting military families like mine are truly remarkable. Every smile and every kind word helps me feel connected to my community. Their cheerful smiles and heartfelt appreciation make each event special.

The crafting of these quilts is a labor of love, involving numerous volunteers and quilting groups nationwide. There are about 20 individual quilters and 5 quilting groups that each have anywhere from 3-25 quilters in them! One is the Ocean Hills quilting group. They are located right here in Oceanside, California near where I live. In a world where everything is instant, the time and skill invested in these quits are indeed precious. I cannot even begin to express the gratitude I feel for these volunteers and the organizations behind them.


Deployment Blankets Benefit the Entire Family

Knowing that your child wants and needs the comfort of a parent who is serving their country far from home can be heart-wrenching. Somehow, seeing our child wrapped in a blanket with photos of his dad is comforting. He is learning to use the Operation Kid Comfort quilt to console himself when he misses his dad instead of getting overwhelmed by those feelings.

My husband is an ocean away and feels guilty that he can’t be here with his family to comfort us. He is missing his family and so many special occasions. Knowing that he was a part of creating this quilt and that our son keeps it with him brings some solace.

The program coordinator at Camp Pendleton ASYMCA told me that she knows of a girl who received her own quilt at age 6 and continues to use it still at age 13. The thought of this brings our family hope that this blanket will continue to help our son through the trials of military life for years to come.


Continue the Comfort and Community

This year, families nationwide have requested over 185 quilts from Operation Kid Comfort. Each quilt, lovingly crafted and filled with care, not only comforts a child but also reinforces the unbreakable bonds within our military community. It continues to weave comfort and community support into the fabric of military life, reminding us that even in times of separation, we remain united in spirit and strength. Please consider donating to ASYMCA to ensure the continuation of programs like this that make a difference.




Don’t miss the beginnings of Jeanine & her family’s Operation Kid Comfort journey: