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Join Veterans Recognition Project

Join Veterans Recognition Project

Media Contact: Karina Rusk

November 11, 2023 – As part of its 70th anniversary celebration, Salinas Valley Health is marking this Veterans Day by distributing handmade gifts to every inpatient who has served in the armed forces and is urging community volunteers to help make the initiative a year-round project. Every Veteran inpatient this holiday receives a patriotic lap blanket generously hand crafted and donated by volunteers. With the community’s help, Salinas Valley Health intends to expand the program to provide the gifts every day with a target date of January 2024. Watch KSBW story here.

“We have a robust Veterans recognition initiative in place at Salinas Valley Health,” says President/CEO Pete Delgado, who is himself a Veteran of the Army. “Our team is really excited about this project because it’s so personal and meaningful for both the person making the quilts and for those receiving them. It’s a way to express our gratitude and recognize those who have served our country.”

Raylene Clough is a dedicated member of the Salinas Valley Health Volunteer Service League. The Salinas resident is currently knitting her third lap blanket for the project. Her father served four years in the armed forces including active duty during the Korean War. Making the blankets is a way to honor him and to let Veterans receiving care at Salinas Valley Health know that their service and sacrifice is appreciated.

“My dad’s commitment to his country left a big impression on me,” says Raylene Clough, Service League volunteer. “Creating something for other Veterans is rewarding to me on so many levels. I appreciate that Salinas Valley Health came up with the idea and is encouraging others to honor military service men and women.”

The Medical Center estimates it has about 600-700 unique Veteran inpatients every year. The goal is to collect enough blankets and engage enough volunteers to start distributing the blankets year-round in January 2024. While the project is ambitious, the organization is confident it is possible based on the success and longevity of its handmade newborn hats distribution, bringing smiles to thousands of families over the year.

“I can’t watch tv or just sit without knitting,” says Clough. “I just imagine how special it will make a patient feel knowing it was made with love and appreciation for their service of protecting our freedoms.”

Each blanket is uniquely handmade and can be quilted, knitted or crocheted to be approximately 36X48 inches in size. The primary colors for the fabric or yarn should be red, white and blue. Any stitch or design is possible although out of respect for the symbolism of the American flag, the organization discourages any effort to replicate the flag itself.

Volunteers who don’t have the time or skills to create blankets can contribute to the Veterans Recognition initiative in other ways by donating yarn or craft store gift cards. Knitters or people who crochet and find it too daunting to produce a 3X4 foot blanket, can also contribute a multitude of 9X9 squares that will be stitched together and finished by more experienced crafters.

Salinas Valley Health was founded in 1953 and dedicated to those who served and paid the ultimate sacrifice during World War II. Earlier this year, Delgado launched the Veterans Recognition initiative to encourage staff to come up with meaningful ways to honor all Veterans who have served in the armed services. The handmade blankets are the latest in a series of ideas to be implemented at the organization which includes the addition of a voluntary question during the registration process to identify and acknowledge Veterans, placing a flag magnet in patient rooms for staff awareness of service status and creating a badge extender option for Salinas Valley Health Veteran staff to wear, honoring their service and identifying themselves as Veterans to patients and families.

Salinas Valley Health has a long history of paying tribute to those who serve, placing hundreds of flags around the campus and lining E. Romie Lane in Salinas during the Memorial Day and Veterans Day holidays. That tradition continues this weekend.

For more information about the handmade blanket program or to donate materials or gift cards, please visit, email or call 831-755-0772.

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