Oconomowoc woman knitting for soldiers, wounded warriors

OCONOMOWOC (WITI) -- The Wounded Warrior Project has grown from a grassroots effort to a national organization which helps injured service members. However, it hasn't lost the grassroots support. An 84-year-old Oconomowoc woman is "knitting for soldiers" -- donating all craft sales to the Wounded Warrior Project.

Ginny Gallauer is a life-long homemaker and widow of a former Marine -- and spends much of her time knitting.

"I love things like this. It's wonderful," Gallauer said.

Though it may seem like a simple hobby for Gallauer, the small dish cloths she knits have made a big difference. Over the past two-and-a-half years, she has been selling her creations and donating every dime to the Wounded Warrior Project. So far, she has donated nearly $8,000.

"Most of us housewives, we don't get a chance to do anything for the soldiers and when they realize that all the money goes to the soldiers, everybody, in my opinion wins," Gallauer said.

The Wounded Warrior Project began 10 years ago by a group of veterans and friends as the first troops were returning home from Afghanistan and Iraq. Its vision is to foster the most successful, well-adjusted generation of wounded service members in our nation's history. It is a story Gallauer knows all too well. Two of her grandsons have served overseas -- Luke, formerly an officer in the Army, and Andy, who as a Marine, was nearly killed in Iraq.

"It was a bad crash with what seemed to be a suicidal truck and he was in a car and he was sitting beside the driver and the driver swerved this way and he got the brunt which often happens. That's why they call that the death seat. He has survived and revived, got married, has two kids -- so he's going to make it but he was definitely changed and injured in the war," Gallauer said.

Though Gallauer isn't sure whether her grandson was ever helped by the Wounded Warror Project, she knows the dish cloth dollars are supporting men and women with a similar story.

"Once you're a wounded warrior you're always a wounded warrior. You don't just change and suddenly you're not so they have a whole different way of looking at it. I didn't know if people would really like them, but people love these dish cloths. They work great," Gallauer said.

Gayle Barnard owns Fresh and Green Market in Oconomowoc -- one of several places the dish cloths are sold. She says while the sales are good, sometimes all it takes is the mission.

"People will even donate money. 'Oh I only want one, but I'll donate five dollars," Barnard said.

The extra support doesn't stop with cash donations. As word spreads, other yarn crafters are adding their stitches to the pile.

"When they found out there was a place to put them and it would make money for the soldiers, I started getting dish cloths like crazy," Gallauer said.

Gallauer knows she could never compete with the big corporate donations the Wounded Warrior Project brings in, but sometimes the effort means more than the bottom line.

"It's a wonderful thing we're able to send them this money.  I don't think they'd run out of money or anything and I'm sure they have other sources that are really more excitin. However, this reminds everybody that the Wounded Warriors are still actively helping our boys and girls and I think it's just working out so well.  I'm very proud of it," Gallauer said.

Anyone who lives near Oconomowoc and would like to help Gallauer, she is looking for someone willing to cut material for the knitted pot scrubbers. Those interested can leave a message at any of the locations the dish cloths are sold, including: Amalia's, Beverly's, Cooney Sports Locker, Fresh and Green Market, Milwaukee St. Traders, Olde Towne Comfort Shoes, Schwefels, and Tips and Toes.