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West Valley City Journal

Crocheting for veterans

Feb 25, 2019 11:53AM ● By Sarah Payne

Stock photo, Flickr.

By Sarah Payne | [email protected]

Mindy Pehrson is the granddaughter of a veteran. She knows veterans are heroes who have endured hardships and dangers in order to serve their country. She also knows that upon their return, they sometimes don’t receive the respect or appreciation they deserve. That’s where she comes in. 

Pehrson spends all year making sure that her heroes are appreciated when Christmas comes to town. She works every day making crocheted ornaments, stuffing candy bags, and preparing Christmas surprises such as scarves, blankets, and hats. Come December, she hands them out to veterans living in the Valor House, the William E. Christoffersen Salt Lake Veterans Home and the nearby hospital. 

Pehrson has done her Christmas project for four years, continuing the tradition of her aunt before her. Pehrson’s grandfather, Max Whitton, was a World War II veteran, and his daughter started the family tradition. After his passing, Pehrson reinstituted the family tradition of making gifts for the veterans as a way to honor the memory of her grandfather. 

“I’m not doing it for me,” Pehrson said. “I’m doing it for them.”

Pehrson’s project attracted the attention of Utah Governor Gary Herbert. Also a veteran, Herbert is the recipient of one of Pehrson’s homemade scarves. 

Pehrson was taught by her grandmother, Ruth Whitton, to crochet at age 7. “I’m thankful that Grandma taught me how to do it,” she said, “because I think about her when I’m making these things, and I know she’s up there going, ‘I really want some of those ornaments.’”

Pehrson’s talent for crocheting has attracted many admirers. Pehrson also crochets doilies, one of which she presented to the Herbert’s wife, Jeanette. The governor presented Pehrson with a letter for the veterans she serves as well, honoring them for their service. Joe Mantegna, an American actor, also sent Pehrson a letter honoring the veterans, to be distributed to them.

She has received help from Smith’s and Harmons grocery stores, which provided donations of candy to give to the veterans. Pehrson also asked that companies donate gift cards for the veterans at the Valor House. 

Pehrson expressed respect for veterans and how they have served our country, often at a personal cost. She recalls a veteran she met in a hospital who had lost a leg and was to lose the other. “It’s just a bump in the road,” she reported him saying.

“That’s why we do this,” Pehrson said. “We know that a lot of these veterans, they’re dealing with so much. So, our goal this year is to make... between 250 and 300 blankets.” 

It’s not just the veterans who benefit from Pehrson’s selfless service, however. Local law enforcement also receive goodies during the holiday season, as a well-deserved and often forgotten thank you for their service.

“A hundred percent of the time,” Pehrson said, “they’re the bravest people we know.”