- October 14, 2020
Joe Barbera unfolded a quilt and laid it across his lap.
He admired the different squares, each with an American theme. Some squares had red and blue hearts or the American flag. Others had fireworks and patriotic pups.
“I thought it was a beautiful quilt,” said Barbera, who is a World War II veteran and resident at Cypress Springs Gracious Retirement Living. “Whoever made it, it must have taken them several weeks.”
Barbera keeps the quilt laid out at the foot of his bed on top of his comforter.
Jerry Hufford, president of the Association of Veterans and Military Supporters at Del Webb in Lakewood Ranch, surprised Barbera along with veterans Ed Willett, Chip Tominelli and Charles Simmons with the quilts Dec. 24.
The Association of Veterans and Military Supporters is a group of 292 Del Webb residents working to raise money to support veterans in the area. The organization was started by a group of veterans living in the community in 2017.
The group usually raises money through dances and other fundraising events, but Hufford said the group decided to branch out and find other ways to support local veterans.
That’s where Del Webb’s Carol Moran became involved.
An avid quilter, Moran, who also is a member of the Association of Veterans and Military Supporters, decided to use patriotic-colored fabric to make quilts for veterans.
“I enjoy making quilts and donating them to various charities in Sarasota and Manatee counties,” Moran said. “It’s a hobby that keeps me busy.”
Hufford came up with the idea of giving something special to local veterans after the Patriot Guard Riders conducted a ceremony for his father-in-law, Korean War veteran Frank Quillin, before he died last year.
“I saw that and I said, ‘We have to start trying to help those veterans that are in retirement homes in Lakewood Ranch,’” Hufford said.
Hufford reached out to Linda Britt-Smith, the activity coordinator at Cypress Springs, and began a partnership with the retirement facility.
“It was pretty heartwarming to see these guys and be able to shake their hand,” Hufford said. “We’re going to start working with them more as a start.”