During the past Christmas holidays, one local veteran became Santa to help make the holidays a little more special for local military veterans that live in some of the local DeKalb area nursing homes. Manuel “Manny” Olalde, a US Marine veteran, wanted to do something special for local veterans that reside in some of the area nursing homes. Olalde ordered a number of quality blankets from the American Legion and spent the week before Christmas visiting nursing homes giving out these blankets to veterans as well as spending time with each veteran to make sure they had some family contact. 50 free blankets (as well as some sweatshirts and pants) were given to local senior centers as well.
This was not part of a project or something required to do, but something Manny took on as a personal project to make the lives of these veterans a little more enjoyable. “Everybody gets busy during the holidays and I wanted to do something special,” said Olalde. “I was able to reach out to the American Legion and find these blankets that are extremely large and comfortable, but have a monogram thank you from the American Legion.”
Olalde visited Pine Acres, Bethany Nursing Home, Heritage Woods, The County Home and Barb City Manor over a two day period.
Many of these nursing home veterans have little family and a sparse holiday celebration. “It was extremely rewarding to visit with these veterans and how thankful they were that someone came to visit,” said Olalde. “It was also very emotional to have this experience and see the joy in their faces with each one proud of their military service to their country. From handshakes to hugs and even a couple salutes, this was a very rewarding holiday.”
Manuel “Manny” Olalde and his wife Jill make their home in DeKalb. Manny is the Vice-Commander of the DeKalb American Legion. Olalde is a Corrections Deputy Officer for the Kane County Sheriff Department.
Olalde also presented members of the Post 66 Honor Guard with a blanket for their dedication to various legion projects in DeKalb County.