A quilters group in Coarsegold is making sure residents at the new Fresno Veterans Home are comfortable and warm.
Known as the Rippits (as in ripping out a seam), the group has made or collected 300 lap quilts that the women will present to the veterans home Nov. 13. The veterans home, which has 300 beds, opened Oct. 18.
About 20 members of the Rippits worked in conjunction with the American Legion Post 110 Auxiliary in Coarsegold, which works for the betterment of veterans and presents various activities on the veterans' behalf. Rippits members say they just wanted to do something nice for the community.
"A number of our ladies have husbands or sons who are veterans, and now they're having a grandchild as a veteran," says Sandy Johnson, coordinator of the Rippits' effort and past president of the American Legion Post 110 Auxiliary.
"We all relate to veterans and their families and what they go through."
The Rippits had started working on the lap quilts, but their efforts stopped for a while when construction on the veterans home had funding problems and delays.
"When I knew the home would open up, we started working on the quilts again," Johnson says.
The Rippits, who gather Wednesday mornings at the Yosemite Lakes Park clubhouse, worked at a good clip to reach the goal in time for the veterans home opening.
The Rippits received help from a Girl Scout Troop in Visalia that contributed 50 lap quilts. Two women in Mariposa also made 10.
Johnson says the effort keeps alive the wishes of her late husband, John Johnson, an Army sergeant in the Vietnam War.
"As a Vietnam vet, he came home and was not treated well," she says. "He was determined that vets wouldn't go through that same thing."
Some members of the Rippits say they were thinking about family as they worked toward the goal.
"I kept thinking of the appreciation I have for everyone who has served," says Patty Dietrich, whose husband, Daniel, served in the National Guard.
Bev Gulley wept as she talked about working on the lap quilts and remembered her father, Lamar Howell, a Marine who died 15 years ago.
"My dad was a World War II veteran in the South Pacific," she says. "He was my hero — and he still is my hero. He was a good guy."
Diane Browder says she is glad that now there is a deeper appreciation and understanding for veterans in this country.
Connie Brannon says it is important that the Rippits honor veterans with quilting and stitching, the group's labor of love: "We wouldn't be here if it weren't for them."
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