Startin’ Somethin’: Kaiserslautern Army libraries launch OpKid

Christine June
U.S. Army Garrison Kaiserslautern

The U.S. Army Garrison Kaiserslautern libraries have started Operation Kid Comfort in the KMC with hopes that it will catch on at other military communities in Europe.

Operation Kid Comfort, or OpKid, is a nationwide program that creates comfort quilts and pillows for children of deployed servicemembers. The organization’s founder, Ann Flaherty, said the Operation Kid Comfort quilt presented to Shannon Tiedemann, 6, by the garrison’s libraries on Jan. 8 is the first one in Europe.

***image1***“I’m so happy to see OpKid making its way around the world,” said Ms. Flaherty, who founded it more than three years ago in Fort Bragg, N.C. “We hoped it would reach children of America’s military across the nation.”

Now the organization can add Europe to its testimony thanks to Shawn Friend-Begin, the garrison’s supervisory librarian, who read about the program in the “Norwich University Record.” Both Ms. Friend-Begin and Ms. Flaherty are graduates of Norwich University in Northfield, Vt.

“It’s my hope that a quilting association or individual quilters will take up a needle and thread to make a difference in a child’s life,” said Ms. Friend-Begin, on why she started the program here.

Photographs of the deployed parent and family members are what makes the quilt so special to the child, said Linda Pride, Kleber library manger, who made Shannon’s quilt. It showcases nine photos of Shannon’s dad, Lt. Col. Dave Tiedemann, who is currently on a yearlong deployment to Kuwait. Even though she spent more than 12 hours sewing the quilt, Ms. Pride had not met Shannon before the presentation, and did not know what the photos represented.

“This is my daddy − in Legoland, in Paris, in a cave …uh, I forgot,” said Shannon describing the photos to Ms. Pride after the presentation.

The forgotten photo is actually of her dad graduating from Norwich University, many years before Shannon was born.

Picking out the photos for the quilt was quite a challenge, said Shannon’s mother, Regina Tiedemann, the garrison’s child and youth division health specialist.

“It was hard to find pictures with just Dave and the kids in it because he’s usually the one taking the photos,” she said.

Those who are interested in starting up OpKid in their communities can call Ms. Friend-Begin at 486-8811 or Ms. Pride at 483-7740.

Additional information about OpKid is available at