Thursday, 21 February 2013

A short look back for our new visitors and a bit of nostalgia for the old hands.

Hi all,
Phew, well I have been addressing boxes and writing accompanying letters and labels and so on ever since I got home from the grocery/school run this morning.  Not to mention answering emails and making a few phone calls and I just looked up at the clock and it is two thirty and I have a visitor coming in half an hour and no post written.  So, here goes and let's see how much I can tell you in that time.

Firstly yesterday's call to 2GB has yielded fruit.   Normally there are between 400 and 500 page views on the blog everyday but yesterday we clocked up over 1000!!!!  I can't tell you the exact number as Blogger is playing up but in excess of 1000 is fabulous. One lady who emailed me today was still reading the blog when I called her back!  :-)   I can't share all of it as some of the emails I still need to follow up (just need time!).   What I can tell you is that I have a couple of new ladies who will be sewing quilts and a wonderful "older" couple as well and that just so far.  There will be people who haven't contacted me but who are reading the blog and will keep an eye on us for a while before they decided whether to get involved or not (so everyone needs to be on their best behaviour please- LOL)  Extra exciting is that I also have a new quilter YAY  just when I was wondering how I was going to get three special quilts quilted without having to do them myself!  Big happy dance here!  And thank you Ray Hadley for taking my call!

For anyone new who doesn't know, we also have a Facebook page  - here and you can subscribe to the blog by email - just look for the Follow by Email box on the right hand side of the blog.  

Tonight's post was going to be a refresher for those who have been with us for a while and a bit of an intro to AHQ for those who have just found us.   Basically Aussie Heroes was born out of the desire to do something to thank those who serve our country in the military.  I absolutely do not agree with the point of view that it is just a job NOR do I agree with the belief that they are "just doing their job".  It takes a special kind of person to "join up" and submit their life and those of their loved ones to what is asked of them in the military.  I remember when I was an Air traffic Controller in the RAAF - every summer holidays the aircrew would be re-called from their holidays for bush fire relief or flood evacuation or search and rescue or medical evacuations .    That is just a few examples.

I started out with the help of my quilt group sending quilts and laundry bags to just one Lovely Warrant Officer and his team of 15.  He happened to be in Afghanistan.   The more I learned about it and the more feedback I received from him and his team the more I knew I had struck a chord.  Those initial quilts and laundry bags meant way more to those 15 men than I had ever imagined.

In addition we sent some extra quilts to be handed out to others.  One of those others was this fellow.  He was so grateful for his quilt that he spoke to his boss and sought approval to take and send me a picture that could be published on the blog.  This is the first picture ever published of a soldier with his Aussie Hero Quilt.


 Aussie Heroes was off and running.  I had no idea what we would be able to achieve but I was determined that we would do what we could AND we would do it apolitically. 

Hence our motto - 

We care about the people not the politics or the mission.

If someone wants to debate the merit of us being over there - they can do so with someone else.  I will not be drawn.  That is not the point.  

Another motto is 

Our quilts are not works of art, but works of the heart.

You can make your quilts as fancy as you like or as simple as you like.  What matters is that you stitch them to the best of your ability and above all you stitch them with LOVE.  It might sound soppy but it really is the thought that counts with what we do.  Over and over again we read in the thank you messages that it is the fact that someone they don't know has invested time and effort and materials to make something as special as a quilt to send to them.

One important thing that you really need to understand with Aussie Heroes.

Laundry Bags were the starting point.

The quilts may be the attention grabber and the headliner but the laundry bags are the gift that makes every day living much easier.  No more searching through loads of identical issued laundry bags for yours at the end of the day.  And even more importantly, no more risk that someone will take your laundry by mistake.  I always have this picture of the big burly guy ending up with the short guy's bag!  

I chronicled the story of those first fifteen laundry bags and 25 quilts on my other blog which now lies dormant and neglected - oh well.  From the comments I received I felt there was enough support to go country wide.   I kept thinking about it until I received a request for five more quilts and laundry bags and decided that it had to happen and laundry Aussie Hero Quilts (and Laundry Bags).

I won't go through all the developmental stages as each month Janine is writing a post called "this time last year" and I don't want to steal her thunder.  What I will try and do is explain how we work and why we do the things we do.  I will cover some part of the Aussie Heroes process regularly over the next week or two.  

For tonight though, I have decided to show some pictures of quilts and laundry bags and heroes from the past.  Some times it is nice to look back and see how far we have come.

Early last year we sent off a bunch of quilts via welfare mail - address to "A Soldier, Sailor or Airman" via AFPO 60 which is the welfare address for Operation Slipper.  We don't do that any more. These days we get requests for quilts but back then that was all we could do - and someone in the post office or sorting area somewhere was obviously not paying attention as three of our quilts ended in with the Peacekeepers in the SINAI EGYPT!!!  That lead to the video I linked to again on the post yesterday  - I will ever be grateful to whoever wrongly directed those quilts!   LOL


 HMAS ANZAC was the first ship deployed to the Middle East that we supported and though their mail deliveries were horrendously unreliable and we still don't know if all quilts arrived (I don't even know if the chaplain received the one I sent - I hope it found him)  those that did arrive were very well received.



As far as I know this quilt hangs on a wall in the Headquarters of the Special Ops Task Force.  That is what it was made for but i have no idea if it is still there.  Would love to know but if it isn't it doesn't matter as it probably means that it has gone home with someone and that is fine too.


And this is a more recent photo.  One of these fellows has cheerfully volunteered to receive laundry bags to hand out to his staff and those around him as he has seen how popular they are.


And of course we have sent laundry bags as well - over 1800 of them and still we keep sending them.  I recently lost my contact within the Special Ops Task Group as he has come home as scheduled.  Those guys as a rule won't ask for quilts and laundry bags but they are happy to have them if they are there.  My contact has told me that everyone loved the laundry bags and they always went as soon as a new lot was left in the mail room.  Hopefully I will have a new contact there soon.



Even our littlest soldiers have received quilts - this is Belvedere


who even had his own laundry bag 


and here is Terry


and his own personalised quilt!


Gosh what a trip down memory lane at a rush.  Next week I will focus on laundry bags. That will be the focus of our next sewing day in Penrith - a laundry bag bonanza but more on that later.  

Till next time.................keep spreading the word and happy stitching!


















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