By Anna Morelock, Fort Riley Public AffairsDecember 31, 2009
FORT RILEY, Kan. - With help from her community, a 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team spouse's project turned into more than she expected.
Misty Dial, the wife of Cpl. Keith Dial, a Soldier with Company A, 701st Brigade Support Battalion, 4th IBCT, set out to make 135 blankets for the Co. A Soldiers in time for Christmas. She ended up with 240.
"Yeah, they have blankets over there," Dial said, "but when you send them something from home, it gives them something to hold onto. Keith always wants pictures to take. When I sent him his blanket, I had to sleep with it first. Stupid little things, but it's something when they get off of a mission or they've had a bad day, they can come back to their room and they've got something to hold onto to keep them going."
Knowing she couldn't get all the blankets done by herself, Dial said she approached her boss, Marsha Habluetzel, at the Clay County Child Care Center in Clay Center, Kan. Habluetzel suggested enlisting the help of Clay Center Mayor Sharon Brown.
"And that's how the mayor got involved," Dial said, "and it became a community project, which really impressed me. I mean we've lived here a year and a half - it'll be two years in April - but still it didn't seem like it would turn out as well as it had."
Brown said she wasn't at all surprised by the outcome.
Dial and Habluetzel came to the mayor's office just before Halloween to ask Brown if she thought the project could be done and how to best go about it.
"I just said of course I thought it could be done because I know what this community is like," Brown said, "just wonderful."
Brown took the project to the county commissioners to ask for their support. Requests for blankets then went out in the local newspaper.
"It started off very slow," Dial said. "We didn't get any blankets for probably the first two weeks, and then they started coming, and once they came it didn't stop."
Along with the blankets came stories from those who made them. Some were made in honor of husbands, brothers or fathers who were in other wars. One volunteer sewer was at Wal-Mart purchasing fleece for a blanket, when a man on a motorized cart, wearing a Vietnam cap, approached her. He gave her $20 toward the material, Dial said.
"You don't see that much anymore," Dial said, "especially these days."
"Those are heartwarming stories," Brown said, "and I think this region, it's just the epitome of this region, I think, when it comes to supporting our military, and it just makes me proud of the entire community."
Clay County and the 4th IBCT are partners through the post's Adopt-a-Community program. Clay Center has participated in numerous activities with its unit, 1st Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment, 4th IBCT.
Whether working with their adopted unit, or supporting military Families, Brown said it's important to support the military, and she's enjoyed everyone she's met through the relationship.
"We can't compete with Manhattan and Junction City, but what we can do is support the individual and that's what we try to do," Brown said. "When someone like Misty comes to us and gives us her individual story, we can do something about that. We can't necessarily take care of four or five thousand military Families that live in Junction City or Manhattan, but when it comes to the individuals we can embrace them well, and that's what we do."