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Patriotic Article
Noble Efforts
By USAF MSgt. Paul Dean

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Giselle Schneider, an Operation Kid Comfort volunteer, meets Cathy Jung and son Nathan. Mrs. Schneider works on Operation Kid Comfort quilts every day because she said service members work on behalf of America every day.
Giselle Schneider, an Operation Kid Comfort volunteer, meets Cathy Jung and son Nathan. Mrs. Schneider works on Operation Kid Comfort quilts every day because she said service members work on behalf of America every day.
  WASHINGTON (9/17/2009 - AFNS) -- The son of a deployed Airman has a cuddly reminder of his father thanks to volunteers with needles, thread and family photos.

Nathan Jung, son of Tech. Sgt. John and Cathy Jung, was presented a quilt made by volunteers from the Armed Services YMCA's Operation Kid Comfort program during a National Day of Service Quilt-a-thon Sept. 11.

"As an adult and a vet I understand the sacrifices we have to make for freedom," said Mrs. Jung, now an Air Force civilian employee. "But children have a harder time. They don't understand the separation."

Sergeant Jung left in July for a six-month deployment to Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan.

Nathan took to the quilt immediately, snuggling it and pointing at photos of the family, which had been scanned, printed on fabric, and sewn together by Giselle Schneider and other volunteers.

Mrs. Schneider, mother of a retired Marine, has volunteered for Operation Kid Comfort since 2007. She started after reading about the program and relating to it because of a family separation she endured as a child. Her family was split between the United States and Cuba for two years.

"I wished I had some photos of my father, something to remind me of him while we were apart," she said.

Mrs. Schneider also remembers the day her son left for basic training and the respect that grew in her for all service members.

Mrs. Schneider said she works on quilts 365 days a year.

"The men and women serving work every day for us, so I have to work every day for them," she said.

Writing from his deployed location, Sergeant Jung has high praise for those making his absence a little easier.

"The volunteers are truly extraordinary, giving of their free time to help comfort children of deployed service members," Sergeant Jung said. "Programs like these make it easier for me to concentrate on the mission at hand, because I know that there are caring people looking after my family."

The National Day of Service event included almost 200 volunteers, some of whom learned how to use a sewing machine just days before. Others did their part by helping with ironing, cutting and layout.

"I just want to make sure that our (service members) know that it isn't just their families who care for them. There are a lot of other people in the world who care too," said Janel Brown, an AmeriCorp volunteer who spent the day volunteering for Operation Kid Comfort.

Each quilt takes approximately eight to 10 hours to make, Mrs. Schneider said. However, this doesn't include the time taken to get the photos onto the fabric, trips to the store to pick out and buy material for the patches surrounding the photos, and preparation of the fabric.

Mrs. Jung said she appreciates the amount of work that goes into making an Operation Kid Comfort quilt. She has been sewing since she was 8.

"But I certainly don't have the time to put together something like this," she said. "I am truly touched that others would reach out and touch us this way; I really appreciate those who do what they can to make John's deployment easier."

Volunteers have distributed more than 6,000 quilts since 2004.

Deployed service members with children 6 years old and younger are welcome to request quilts, which ideally arrive about 90 days after the member has deployed.

Operation Kid Comfort volunteers usually have a backlog of about 80 requests and are always looking for others to help.

Quilts can be requested by following the Operation Kid Comfort link at

To volunteer for Operation Kid Comfort contact Susan Symms, AFYMCA manager of corporate relations at 1-800-597-1260 ext. 104, or

Article and photo by USAF MSgt. Paul Dean
Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs

Copyright 2009

Reprinted from Air Force News Service

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