Erlinda Alvarez was born in 1930 in a rock house in a small eastern New Mexico town that no longer exists. Over the past 83 years, Alvarez has seen changes in the world most of us only read about in history books. In that time, Alvarez has had a family member serve in every major American conflict. These include her grandfather in WWI, her father in WWII, her husband in Korea, three sons in Vietnam and a son and a grandson in the Gulf War and Iraq.
With twelve children to care for, Alvarez said she felt the desire to support those defending the country and those who have come back, especially those who have sustained injuries. Thomas Alvarez, Erlinda’s husband, lost his legs in the Korean War, leaving him in a wheelchair. Erlinda Alvarez said that she learned what it meant to someone in a wheelchair to be comfortable. She said she had found her calling and began quilting blankets.
Putting thread to needle, Alvarez quilted, crocheted and sewed blankets for her husband, her children and for veterans coming back from war. When Thomas passed away in 1966, Alvarez joined the Military Order of the Purple Heart Bataan Chapter, an organization dedicated to providing service to all veterans and their families.
Alvarez began donating her blankets to veterans coming back from the Iraq War in early 2004.
On January 13, 2012, Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry commended Alvarez during a ceremony for the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service. Alvarez was recognized for her support of the troops, and the creation of a quilt she made for the Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program. Toys for Tots collects donations of Christmas gifts for needy children in the community.
Alvarez has continued to quilt blankets for returning veterans, and anyone else she finds who is need of a comfortable and warm blanket.
“Sewing blankets keeps me young, although I need my glasses to thread the needle now, I will always make blankets as long as I am able,” Alvarez said.