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Frankenmuth Blue Star Families
WARMTH FOR WARRIORS...is a project initiated by the Frankenmuth Area Blue Star Families, creating more than 400 helmet liner caps that have been sent to Frankenmuth-area soldiers and those in their platoons. Above Frankenmuth's Garrett Scharrer, thrid from the left, a United States Marien Corps sergeant, is pictured with his unit.
Warmth for Warriors benefits local soldier
In 2009, the Frankenmuth Area Blue Star Families kicked off a “Warmth for Warriors” project, requesting help to knit and crochet “helmet liners” for our local deployed soldiers. Liners are worn under the soldier’s helmet for warmth during the frigid winter months overseas. Since that time, the response of knitters both local and across the country has been overwhelming and nearly 400 caps have been sent to Frankenmuth area soldiers and those in their platoons.
Last year we were lucky to have our Frankenmuth soldiers state-side and were able to save remaining caps for the 2012 season.
This winter we have two local soldiers deployed: SGT Garret Scharrer USMC (son of Judy Scharrer and Randy Scharrer, Frankenmuth) and SSG Neil Bartlett US Army (son of Joni Van Fleet, Frankenmuth), the remaining caps were sent to both to share with their fellow soldiers.
Both Scharrer and Bartlett have passed along the soldier’s gratitude, and both have shared heartwarming stories.
“Garret’s unit refer to the caps as “beenies”. One of Garret’s men was in an accident and laid up for a short time, when he returned to the unit he realized he’d lost his “beenie” and came to Garret asking for another just like the one he had” shared Judy Scharrer.
Neil’s unit fondly refer to the caps as “gam-gam” hats, Neil’s nick-name for his grandmother Gretna Van Fleet, Frankenmuth who made many of the caps that were sent to Neil’s team.
“Neil shared a story that warmed our hearts and saddened our souls, two of his men were lost in battle, one of the soldiers loved his “gam-gam” cap so much that it was wrapped and sent home to his wife” added Joni Van Fleet.
In early December we received an urgent request from Neil indicating others in his unit were still in dire need of a wool cap. Snow would soon begin to fall in the mountains making shipments from home nearly impossible, this gave us a very small window of opportunity with which to make and ship the much needed caps.
Within weeks we were able to ship an additional 60 caps to both Garret and Neil with enough left to assist the Frankenmuth Rotary in their Christmas packing project. This effort was only made possible by the quick response of local knitters and others as far away as Tennessee and Wyoming.
We wish to extend a heartfelt thank you to all of the knitters who shared their time during the busy Christmas season to meet the plea of our local soldiers, along with a very special thank you to Karen Zehnder, Chip and Deb Sassonne and the Frankenmuth Noon Rotary for their generous donation of wool, and to Beth Keller and the Frankenmuth Women’s Club for both donations and caps.
We have started our focus on the upcoming 2013 “Warmth for Warriors” winter season. The knitted or crochet caps are quick and easy to make but it is critical the yarn is 100% wool as a synthetic or nylon will melt in the event of an explosion causing serious injury to the soldier. Anyone that would like to assist in this 2013 endeavor can contact Jan Fusi at 989-280-8410 for the pattern and additional information.
Again, many thanks to all those who helped in this 2012 endeavor, but more importantly, thank you to all our soldiers: “Because of your bravery, courage and sacrifice, liberty and freedom are still ours, we are deeply grateful."