Before the main part of tonight's post I have a few bits and pieces to share with you.
I was going to remind everyone that we need to get our quilts for HMAS Newcastle in the mail by the end of the month but I think we pretty much have that under control.
I am heading away this weekend for a rare change. I am going to go and spend the weekend with Angela and Amy, Aussie Hero Friends I am yet to meet but have become firm friends with. While away I will also be meeting some other Aussie Hero Friends and the wife of one of one of our recipients which is always a wonderful treat. There may or may not be a trip to a local quilt shop included......well really......what do you expect!
On the same subject but totally unrelated to Aussie Heroes I figured you wouldn't mind giving me some advice. Part of the reason I am going this weekend is because Angela's family are having a party on Saturday night - an 80's party - and it is fancy dress! Apart from big shoulder pads, big hair and blue eye shadow what should I wear - and don't say leg warmers as that is not happening!
All suggestions gratefully received!
But what does this mean for you? Simple, I need the photos for the Weekly Despatches no later than Thursday night or they will not be included in the post as I do not want a last minute rush on Friday morning. Friday night's post will go up as usual and Sunday's as well though there is a chance that Sunday's might be a little bit late.
Now on to the business end of tonight's post. Recently a Home Economics teacher from a college in WA told me that she is going to get her Family and Community students (Year 11 girls) to make some laundry bags Aussie Heroes for a Community Project. She found out about us when her nephew received one of the quilts that Lynn and I collaborated on.
It is so special to receive your own laundry bag from one of the wonderful volunteers who make them because you know that a great deal of skill and thought has gone into making each one. Each recipient is so grateful that there is someone back in Australia thinking of them and it's nice to be reminded of home. Not only is it a very useful accessory that is almost used on a daily basis, it is also a perfect keepsake and reminder of the recipient's time on deployment.
I'm currently deployed to Multi National Base Tarin Kowt , a base in Southern Uruzgan Province, Afghanistan.
Receiving mail from back home, and especially laundry bags & quilts from "Aussie Hero Quilts", is a surprise which all sailors, soldiers and airmen deployed here look forward to as a break from our long days.
In addition, the wonderful patterns often include images from Australia which, after being away from home for such a long time, remind us of how beautiful a country Australia is and that protecting it from International terrorism is the main reason why we are here.
Thank-you for volunteering your time to make laundry bags for deployed Australian personnel in Afghanistan. Its a privilege to receive one and I pass on my sincere thanks on behalf of all Australian military personnel deployed to this location.
"Dear Students of Children, Family and Community Class,
I am a Platoon Commander in Tarin Kowt, Afghanistan. We have recently heard of your kindness and generosity through Ms B and Aussie Hero Quilts. My team and I have been in Afghanistan for some time now and have a very large job to complete whilst we are here. We have been away from home for a significant period of time, but without fail, the gifts and messages of support from home are priceless. This is particularly evident when I hand out laundry bags to my soldiers. It brings a little bit of Australia to Afghanistan and assures all of my troops that we are being recognised back home. We have had some very interesting patterned laundry bags come in - which people take great pride in - in particular Bob the Builder and any Australia related patterns. Of course the girls are loving the bright patterns and the guys love the racing cars, Bob the Builder and the like. A quick run down of the soldiers I have on the ground, the majority are Army personnel, however; I have a small contingent of Navy personnel also.
So on behalf of all my soldiers in Tarin Kowt, we would like to thank you for taking the time out to express your interest in our work over here. Good luck for the remainder of your time at school, and we hope that the holidays were enjoyable.
I would like to share with you what it means to receive a laundry bag which has been made by a member of the Aussie public.
The views expressed here are my own.
I am currently on deployment to Afghanistan, and I have the privilege of handing out the laundry bags to deployed members in my area. I have distributed 54 laundry bags in the last 6 weeks. When I am packing, the last thing I tend to think of is a laundry bag, or I think a laundry bag is one of those luxuries I think I can do without.... until I need one.
From what I have seen, heard and experienced, most people go through stages.
1. Shock. What do you mean I can just take one? Free!? Someone back home makes them and sends them over just for us?
2. Surprise. When they start looking through them and realise how well they are made, and how much more laundry they can fit in them.
Some of the members have been using plastic bags or their pillow case as a laundry bag.
3. Connected. This is where they find THE ONE. The one that they relate to. Like it was made with them in mind. Their search comes to a complete halt.
e.g. When a member found one related to the job he is doing whilst he is here, another member found one with anchors on it and he was Navy, yet another member found one with her home town on it, just to name a few.
4. Cherished. Some members indicate that they will keep it as a memento. Some members indicate that they will be presenting it to a loved one.
5. Gratitude. For the volunteers who make and send them to us.
So... When is a Laundry Bag not just a Laundry Bag?
Personally, I will be presenting my laundry bag to my five year old daughter to use as a laundry bag or library bag. She hasn't coped well with my absence, not as good as my other children anyway. That way she can say that she has the laundry bag that some stranger from back in Australia made and sent to her dad for while he was away with the Army. Also when I need to go away in the future, I can "borrow" her laundry bag, with the thought that I will need to come back, to return it to her.
It's the little things in life that make a big difference.
It almost seems a shame to use my laundry bag, but I don't want to use my pillow case and have it smell like my dirty socks!! LOL
To sum it up, the laundry bags are a practical memento, made by the kindness of Aussie strangers.
The smiles and gratitude I see every time someone takes a laundry bag, is for you, the volunteers that make it possible.
Thank you for your thoughts and support.
Keep smiling :-)