BERRYDALE — Joy Campbell will never know the names or faces of the thousands of wounded military men and women she has helped, but she knows they are grateful.
Campbell is the Florida regional director for Sew Much Comfort, a nonprofit organization of volunteers who make free adaptive clothing for injured service members.
"Knowing you have made a difference for someone whose life has been horrendously altered is rewarding," she said.
Campbell, 63, recently received a 2008 Very Important Patriot Award of Merit from the National Military Family Association for her efforts.
"When the White House called to ask about my other community service, I was out mucking stalls because I also foster horses," she said. "It's nice to get the award, which is for the 320 active and 198 new volunteers who work with me to make a difference."
Campbell has been sewing for more than 50 years but mainly organizes volunteers.
"I am not a great seamstress," she laughed. "I sew to show people how to get it done."
We cannot keep up with the requests, Campbell said.
"We did 30,000 items last year nationwide, and Florida did at least 2,000," she said. "However, sewing is a dying art. Most volunteers are over 60."
Will Wilson of Pace got adaptive clothing made by volunteers in Niceville. The Navy seaman had his right leg amputated below the knee after a 2003 injury aboard the USS Enterprise. He fell 30 feet and broke his neck and legs.
"I was truly able to fully appreciate the impact these dedicated volunteers have on the lives of our brave, young, injured service personnel," he said. "No matter where you turned, there were usually several amputees or soldiers attempting limb salvage proudly wearing garments sewn by the hands of angels."
New T-shirts, undershirts and sweatshirts come in gray, black or navy blue, Campbell said.
"We don't give the service men and women T-shirts or sweatshirts that say things like 'I walked or ran something' or 'I survived anything,'" she said. "They are doing their best to survive their injuries."
Campbell, whose father served in World War I and II and whose son is a Marine, said working with Sew Much Comfort is a good way to show her patriotism.
"I cannot go fight. I'm old, but I can do this," she said.