VITAS helped bring an early dose of Christmas to the veterans at the Cincinnati VA during the annual Christmas Volunteer Evening. VITAS Veteran Liaison Carole Quackenbush (above, second from right) helped lead the event and took volunteers from the VA and other veteran service organizations (VSOs) floor to floor to spread Christmas cheer among the hospital and hospice patients with conversations and presents.
"It was as simple as singing 'Jingle Bells,'" says Quackenbush, who represented both VITAS and the Military Order of the Purple Heart. "There were a lot of tears and appreciation just for being remembered. It really touched the vets, and the people volunteering got a lot out of it too."
The event is one of the VA Voluntary Service’s quarterly meetings, which usually center on finding better ways to meet the needs of the patients.
This one, however, was a meeting in name only. Accompanied by two Santa Clauses and a pair of walking, talking, bedazzled Christmas trees, the volunteers spent the evening caroling and delivering fleece blankets, cookies and ornaments to the veterans.
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Volunteers included members of local banks, the Red Cross, and several VFWs and American Legions. Quackenbush says she had fun trying to stoke military branch rivalries between some of the veteran volunteers and patients.
The festivities were "extremely, extremely well received by everyone," Quackenbush says. "It's another good example of how great we are at supporting our veteran community-especially during the holidays, when it's a really rough time to be in the hospital."
Above: The local chapter of the Military Order of Purple Heart Post, with previous Commander James Kennedy, Joe Siebenburgen, Quackenbush and Tony Kohl
Above: The volunteers, including several American Legions and Legion Auxiliaries, Military Order of the Purple Heart, Disabled American Veterans and the American Red Cross