As a military veteran, Randy Martin is used to the occasional ‘thank you’ here and there. But he also says it’s not unusual for his service to go unnoticed.
“Most of the time you just get handshakes in the mall like, ‘hey thank you for your service,’” he said. “But sometimes you don’t get anything.”
Martin enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1992. Since then, he’s completed several tours of service and served in the National Guard. While finishing up his National Guard duties, Martin also worked at Lowe’s in Idaho Falls, Idaho.
“I was in the National Guard in conjunction with this job at Lowe’s, and they were always very supportive and even allowed me to deploy,” Martin said.
It wasn’t until his time at Lowe’s that Martin met someone who thanked him in a completely new way.
“The military puts their lives on their line for us and it seems like the least I can do is make their lives more comfortable and let them know that we thank them for their service,” said Lowe’s customer, Mimi Jones.
Jones also lives in Idaho Falls, and just a few months ago, went to her local Lowe’s to buy a new dryer and have it delivered to her home. As you may have guessed, Martin made that delivery.
“While we were installing it, we just had a sidebar conversation and she found out I was a veteran,” Martin said. “She asked if she could make a quilt for me. And I said, ‘sure.’”
But this wasn’t just any quilt. Jones has taken it upon herself to thank as many veterans as she can by making them each a special quilt full of reds, whites and blues. All handmade, the quilts are Jones’ way of comforting veterans and thanking them for their service. In each quilt, she sews the outline of a butterfly.
“A butterfly is a sign a new life and a sign of starting over,” Jones explained. “It seems very applicable to put that in a quilt because these people – the veterans – we don’t know what they’ve been through, and they are starting over.”
About two months after Martin made that dryer delivery, he was at work when his manager called him up to the front of the store. There he found his boss, his coworkers, and Jones all gathered – to honor him. In a small ceremony, Jones wrapped the new quilt around Martin’s shoulders, hugged him and thanked him again. It was a gesture Martin says made him feel more connected to his customers than ever before, and a show of appreciation he’ll never forget.
“It was all a surprise to me, so when Mimi came to the store to deliver it to me I was rather surprised, and very appreciative,” Martin said.
And Jones? The quilting won’t stop any time soon. After all, there are more veterans to thank.
“As I work with people, you realize that their military background is part of who they are today, be it good, bad or indifferent,” Jones added. “This just helps reinforce the good of what they did, and it helps me realize that I am helping them.”