Meet the woman making quilts for Yukon veterans

After retiring, Linda Gerein wanted to do something meaningful with her time. She got involved with Quilts of Valour, and has been working ever since.

Linda Gerein is putting a lifelong love of quilting to work to support members of the Canadian Armed Forces

Linda Gerein holds up one of her quilts. Over the past three years, she's made six for veterans from Yukon. (Kaila Jefferd-Moore/CBC )

Linda Gerein had just retired when her husband brought home a brochure for this quilting program for military veterans about three years ago.

Gerein is a quilter. Her father and grandfather were both veterans, and Gerein was already thinking: "I need to do something with my time, something meaningful."

Then, she noticed Yukon didn't have a regional representative for Quilts of Valor - Canada, so she offered to do it. 

"Here I am three years later still making quilts," she said.  

Since Gerein started three years ago, 10 quilts have been given to Yukon veterans. Gerein's made six herself, while the other four came from other quilters in Yukon and around Canada. When veterans are presented their quilts, they're wrapped around their shoulders. 

"It's meant to be a hug from a grateful nation," says Gerein. "It's a way of saying: what you did matters and that people care and that we want to support you in whatever you're dealing with as a result of your service."

Quilts of Valor - Canada was started by Lezley Zwaal in Edmonton in 2006. The charity's mission is "to ensure that injured Canadian Forces members are recognized for their service and commitment to Canada" by presenting these quilts for comfort. 

"Sometimes they feel a little forgotten when they come back and they're struggling with PTSD or whatever medical issues they may have," she said. "It's a small thing but it's a way to give something back. It's something physical and tangible for them to have.

"And I've heard lovely stories of people who've received quilts where they'll use their quilt after they had a bad day — they come home, they wrap up in their quilt, sit down in their recliner and just chill."

At least 30 Yukon vets need a quilt 

A quilter of over 30 years, Gerein says she's given so many quilted gifts to friends and family. 

"I think they're getting tired of soft, squishy presents under the tree," she said with a chuckle. "I always say it lets me quilt without guilt."

The quilts are given to veterans who have been injured during their military service.

Gerein says the Royal Canadian Legion identified 30 veterans in the Yukon who need a quilt, but she knows there are more. 

"I'm hoping that Yukoners will come forward to identify other people who aren't necessarily legion members but who are eligible."

She also hopes Yukon quilters interested in donating a quilt, blocks, or their time will also reach out so those waiting for quilts don't have to wait so long.