Each year the members of the Roanoke Valley Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (RVCDAR) adopt the community service project of making fleece lap blankets for residents of the Virginia Veterans Care Center in Salem. This is just one of many projects the Roanoke Valley chapter completes annually in service to veterans.
The members usually deliver the blankets to the center as a group in February and distribute them to units throughout the facility; however, this year, due to the severe outbreak of the flu and other illnesses, the center is closed to visiting groups, as are many of the other facilities serving the elderly and infirm throughout the valley.
On February 5, Chapter Regent Sharon Menzies made the trip with her husband Gordon to the center to drop off the 72 blankets the chapter had made. This is an increase over last year’s delivery of 50 blankets.
She was greeted at the entrance by Assistant Activities Director Susan Reynolds, who accepted the donation of the blankets and planned to deliver them, along with Activities Director Maeghan Hubbard, to the Second Floor Unit.
The blanket project is coordinated by co-chairs Judy Bishop and Jan Carter. Patriotic fleece fabric is ordered in the summer. The women in the chapter meet in August to trim and fringe the blankets, which are then knotted at a meeting in the fall.
The Virginia Veterans Care Center is one of two state homes for veterans in Virginia. It is located on the campus of the Salem Veterans Administration Medical Center on Shenandoah Avenue, but operates separately from that facility.
The mission of the care center is “to provide affordable, high quality, comprehensive nursing and domiciliary care to Commonwealth of Virginia residents who are admitted.” It was officially opened on Veteran’s Day in 1992. Residents come from all branches of the service. Several World War II veterans are still living at the center.
Residents go through an application process. They are required to have been born in Virginia or to have done their basic military training in the Commonwealth or to have resided in Virginia for at least one year. They must also have been honorably discharged from the service.
Menzies volunteered at the facility for several years, working with the Red Cross visiting with the residents and distributing coffee to them and the staff, as well as planning special events.
The DAR has other projects that help veterans at the center. Members made Christmas cards for the residents and will be putting together over 300 Valentines for delivery to them in time for Valentine’s Day.
In the past year they have also taken on projects of donating T-shirts and socks for the VA Medical Center, supporting the Veterans Breakfast at W.E. Cundiff Elementary School, and sending care packages and folded pocket flags to members of the military deployed overseas.
The Roanoke Valley DAR Chapter meets at St. Timothy’s Lutheran Church on Hardy Road in Vinton on the second Saturday of most months. It was founded in 1961 and celebrated its 56th anniversary last year.
The local DAR works with several area schools, including William Byrd High School, where a DAR Good Citizenship Award and Scholarship is presented each spring to a student chosen by their peers. They also present the WBHS Air Force JROTC Medal Award to a cadet at that organization’s banquet each spring.
The National Society of the DAR was founded in 1890. It is a non-profit, non-political volunteer women’s service organization dedicated to promoting patriotism, to preserving American history, and to securing America’s future through better education for children.
They welcome new members who complete the paperwork to document their lineage to a Patriot of the American Revolution. Any woman 18 years or older, regardless of race, religion or ethnic background, who can prove lineal descent from a patriot of the American Revolution is eligible for membership in the DAR.
The chapter will be holding their annual prospective member Open House at St. Timothy’s on March 10 beginning at 10 a.m. Prospective members may even bring all direct line genealogy information and papers to be considered with them to the Open House to jumpstart the process.