Linda Ferrara and friends send bundles of love
On the first Monday evening of each month, Linda Ferrara and her friends
gather at King’s Harbor Church to create blankets for people they
don’t know located thousands of miles away. The blankets, sent to
soldiers deployed or in a military hospital, provide a tangible sign that
people back home care about them.
Ferrara started the project after one of her sons, Matt, was killed in
Afghanistan in 2007. Matt’s company sustained terrible losses that
day, with five other soldiers killed and twice as many injured.
She learned about a group called Soldiers’ Angels, which provides
a blanket and backpack filled with clothing and toiletries to soldiers
receiving medical care at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany.
“When you receive a battle injury, you don’t pack a bag to
bring to the hospital,” says Ferrara. “These backpacks supply
the soldiers with something to wear other than a hospital gown, which
is especially helpful if they are ambulatory.”
It’s a natural outgrowth of what she was already doing. When another
of her sons was deployed as a company commander in Korea during the winter,
Ferrara sent gloves for the entire company. “Some of the men may
not have family support or may not have the financial means to purchase
supplies,” she says.
After Matt’s death, Ferrara started the group Blankets for Soldiers,
which makes and sends about 700 fleece blankets each year to Soldiers’
Angels as well as several hundred more to deployed soldiers in Afghanistan.
The Sunshine Club of the Wilmington VFW assists with this effort, making
about half of the blankets.
“It’s a way for the soldiers to know that people are thinking
about them,” she says. “And army blankets are scratchy. These
blankets are much softer.”
Along with the blankets, Ferrara’s group sends goodie bags filled
with snacks such as salami, cheese and cookies. When she spoke with Pulse,
she was preparing to send blankets and goodie bags to 400 soldiers.
“They are at an outpost, not a base, so there’s no commissary
where they can buy items. They rely on what people send them.” Each
of Ferrara’s four sons attended West Point and subsequently served
in the Army. The oldest, Marcus, a full colonel, just moved to Washington,
D.C. Damon was a captain, and Andrew is a general’s aide.
“I feel like Matt would be happy about what I’m doing,”
Ferrara says. “He was always asking me to send things to other soldiers.
They need support from the communities they’re defending.”