Staff at the Silver Bay Veterans Home display composition book covers

Staff at the Silver Bay Veterans Home display composition book covers made and donated by VFW Auxiliary member Monica Curtiss of Babbitt, at left in front.

BABBITT — VFW Auxiliary member Monica Curtiss is proud of her father, the late Arthur Erkkila, for serving in World War II.

And he would be justly proud of his daughter for the charitable deeds she does, especially at the Silver Bay Veterans Home.

Her latest project was "making composition book covers to thank all the workers at Silver Bay Veterans Home for working through COVID this year. Their dedication and commitment to taking care of our veterans needed to be recognized," Curtiss, of Babbitt, said by email.

"I had a lot of smaller pieces of fabric and saw this as an opportunity to give them something useful, and use up my smaller pieces of stash fabric. I made 150 for all the workers there. It was fun to watch them picking out what one book reflected their personality."

Curtiss joined the VFW Auxiliary in the 1970s. A Babbitt native, she lived in Proctor for several years. She moved back to the Babbitt area in 2011 and retired in 2014 from a 32-year career with the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT). She was the first woman to work in maintenance and the first woman supervisor in the district.

"I began dedicating more time to veterans after I retired. I enjoyed spending time with them at Silver Bay Veterans Home during the Halloween party District 8 VFW hosts each year," said Curtiss, who served many years as president of the Babbitt VFW Auxiliary 1539.

The Babbitt Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1539 gave up its charter a few years ago, and Curtiss transferred her membership to the Gilbert VFW Auxiliary.

She said, "A few years ago 1539 decided to do a fundraiser for Silver Bay — Kleenex box covers. After making 104 covers, and finding people to donate 104 Kleenex boxes, we sat by Zup's in Babbitt to ask people if, for a donation of $10, they would write a few lines on a card that we placed on top of the Kleenex box. Some comments were 'thank you for your service' and 'our freedom is because you served' and 'God bless you for serving.' Each veteran picked out and opened their box with a personal note inside. We then donated the $1,040 we raised to whatever program they saw necessary. Huge success. They all loved the colorful patriotic theme that brightened their rooms, and it was functional."

Curtiss recently finished balloon covers for the veterans.

"It's fabric that covers a 12-inch balloon. A little more sturdy than a regular balloon, you can bounce them and they're washable."

She will be sending them by mail because of possible road closures caused by the Greenwood fire, she said, although she had wanted to deliver them in person. Curtiss will also be donating to the District 8 auction.

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