Krystal Shirrell, 18, of Brownsburg, Ind., a senior at Brownsburg High School, has engaged in a variety of activities to assist and support U.S. veterans and soldiers. While attending a workshop organized by her sister to make hats for cancer patients, Krystal heard someone talking about how patients undergoing kidney dialysis treatment often struggle to control their body temperature. Shortly afterward Krystal was at a Veterans Day banquet when she learned that many veterans need dialysis, and an idea took shape: she could make lap blankets to help kidney-damaged veterans stay warm during treatment.
Krystal spent up to eight hours making each blanket. She also taught middle school students and senior citizens at a local nursing home how to make the blankets. So far, she has delivered more than 300 of them to nearby VA hospitals. On one visit, she learned about the VA’s domiciliary program for homeless vets, and immediately wanted to do something for these veterans as well. She conducted a collection drive that provided more than 5,000 needed items for vets in the program, and she hosts monthly bingo nights for them, too. In addition, Krystal designed a “thank-you” coloring sheet for elementary school students to send to veterans in a number of states and troops stationed in Afghanistan, and launched a campaign to send over 100 decorated Christmas trees, 525 care packages for the troops during the holidays and numerous boxes of supplies and special treats for veterans. Krystal says she wants to “let veterans know the younger generation has not forgotten them and is reaching out with thanks and support.”