GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Upon hearing of a local Marine veteran's receiving of a Purple Heart Home this past Veterans Day, a Kernersville woman vowed to make him a special gift--something that would make his new house feel more like a home.
After WFMY News 2 reported on the unveiling of the home, renovated for Sgt. Nathan Harris by the Purple Heart Homes Foundation, Linda Starkey reached out to WFMY News 2's Meghann Mollerus. "And when I saw Nathan on TV, I just felt like he had to have a quilt. I saw his big bed, so he had to have a big quilt, and then I saw his living room, and I thought he needs a throw in there, too, so we managed to get two together for him, and we're very excited about it," Starkey explained.
Starkey is a member of the Kernersville Senior Center's Charity Brigade, which works with the Carolina Long Arm Association to make quilts for people whom they feel need comfort. When Starkey saw Harris's story, she said she believed he would be the perfect candidate for such gifts.
Harris, originally from Yadkinville, was badly wounded in a helicopter assault during his deployment with the Marines in Afghanistan. Until last month, he did not have a permanent home and bounced around from place to place while trying to heal both physical and emotional wounds. He said his new home has provided him an indescribable sense of stability, and the outpouring of support from community members like Starkey has been tremendously helpful.
Harris said, "It actually means a lot. One of the first things that I wanted when I was in and out of the hospital for a long time was a blanket or a quilt. So, it's something that I always want and have not had for a long time. But, really, it means that not only are members of the community helping me and trying to do things for veterans, it means that it (the kindness) didn't stop once I received the home and moved in here."
Harris's mother, Cindy Gitter, said, "Every day, there are more of the wounded veterans out there who are coming home, and it's just I think it reminds us, even more me, that we need to be more cognizant and remember those that are coming home. And for people to do this, just to care enough just to make a home a home for him and bring him something-it's intimate. It's intimate."
For Harris, Starkey created two quilts--a large one with the Charity Brigade and the other, a patriotic-themed throw, by herself. She said especially in honor of her husband, who is a former Marine like Harris, she intends on focusing more of the Charity Brigade's efforts on making quilts for wounded veterans.
Starkey and her husband Wayne have promised to continue working with the Crescent Rotary Club president Brian Sowers, who spearheaded the renovating of Harris's new house and helped coordinate the quilt delivery. They said together, they intend to help with future Purple Heart Homes projects and ensure the homes' recipients receive a housewarming gift-a comfortable quilt.
In light of the recent act of kindness bestowed upon him, Harris has issued a reminder for anyone in the Triad community who wishes to continue the string of compassion this holiday season.
He said, "Just remember the community can be a neighbor...to someone that doesn't have a family on the holidays. For you to take some of your leftover meals to someone or just to spend a few minutes talking with them and asking them about their day and showing them that you care... You can show that with something as simple as talking to someone. And we've got to remember to do that."
WFMY News 2