Essentia Health honors veterans in hospice with patriotic pillowcases

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As the nation plans to honor veterans on Veterans Day on Nov. 11, Essentia Health also honors veterans in hospice care, with a special, handmade gift.

As part of the "We Honor Veterans" program, all veterans entering hospice through Essentia are presented with a certificate of appreciation, a pin and a flag.

Beginning this Veterans Day, veterans in Duluth and Superior, on the Iron Range, in the Itasca County area and in northern Wisconsin will also receive a beautiful and patriotic pillowcase.

"After learning of the pillowcase idea at a veterans' conference, we connected with a 4-H group in Becker County," said Katie Neff Dawson, a volunteer supervisor who works with veterans in hospice at Essentia. "The kids took it on as a county fair project and sewed 65 pillowcases to give to veterans."

Quilts of Valor, a national organization that presents quilts to veterans, donated the material for the kids' project. Each pillowcase also comes with a note card from the child that made it, thanking the veteran for their service.

"We believe these pillowcases will be special mementoes for the patients and may also become family keepsakes for years to come," said Kim Ellsworth, who also supervises Essentia's hospice volunteers.

One in every four deaths in the United States is a veteran. Essentia cares for 500 to 600 veterans.

"We learned that other hospice programs that gave pillowcases have seen families use them in the veteran's casket," says Dawson. "We are so very grateful to those that support us and help us to honor veterans."

For more information on We Honor Veterans, visit www.WeHonorVeterans.org and for more information on Quilts of Valor, go to www.qovf.org.