Over the last couple of posts I have explained how this project got started and how we sent off 49 boxes of quilts, laundry bags and Christmas goodies to a team of soldiers in Afghanistan.  On the 10th of November we waved good bye to all of them and then, as I said at the time, the hard part started, the waiting.  
I was warned that it would take between 2-4 weeks for mail to arrive and being Christmas time it might take longer. Imagine my delight when I received an email on the 18th of November, telling me that the laundry bags had arrived with some of the quilts.  That was my birthday and that email was about the best birthday surprise I could have asked for!   We had made the right decision sending all the laundry bags in one box as only 12 boxes turned up in that load.   Some of the rest of the boxes turned up in dribs and drabs and just as we were getting concerned about the last of the quilts, and wondering if they would get there in time for Christmas, I received an email on the TWENTYTHIRD OF DECEMBER!!! to say that all quilts were there – talk about cutting it fine!!!  So I had a lovely birthday surprise and an early Christmas surprise.
Sadly I can’t publish any of the photos I have of the guys and our girl receiving their quilts as their identities are not for publication.  I have asked for some pics that I can publish and hopefully I will get some soon.
You would not believe the response to the parcels we have sent.  Apparently our female soldier cried when she read the label on the back of her quilt and originally she would lay out her quilt on her bed during the day time and fold it away at night time.  She didn’t want it to get ruined.  I managed to convince her that I would make her another on her return to Oz if it did so she is using it all the time now.
Another soldier wrote to me and said “I have seen the quilts you have made for some of our members and while all are yet to arrive, I again thank you all for this wonderful gesture of support. It is heartening to know that we are not forgotten and that our efforts are appreciated. With the weather starting to turn and the real winter not far away, the quilts will be most appreciated and well worn by the end of our trip.”
Here are some other comments.  I still can’t read them without getting a little teary.  Sniff.
” Please let the ladies know of the the joy that they have only just started to deliver.”
“I am very much looking forward to receiving a quilt, it will be loved and have quite a few more military adventures before I retire. I plan for it to go where ever I go from now on.”
“The snow is only about sixty km away, it is starting to get very cold. I will be tucked up in bed under one of your quilts tonight! Have a great day sewing tomorrow and know that there is now a very well looked after team of soldiers thanks to you.”
“Thank you sooo much for all your efforts over the past few months. You would not believe how the guys react when I tell them there are a few more boxes from you.”
At the beginning of December my hubby and I bought a 1.2m tree for $9 and boxed it up with some tinsel and baubles and sent it off.  Then the Primary School students from my sons’ school made some Christmas decorations and cards and we sent those off as well.
“The Christmas decorations from the school children were fantastic. I will take some pictures and send them off to you tomorrow.   XX has gone a little crazy with all the decorations, the office looks very festive and the tree (again thank you) is a fire hazard due to all the decorations. I must admit I was a bit grinchy when XX tried to put tinsel up in my corner, but it looks awesome.”
I can’t believe the response we have had to our efforts.  To say they have been appreciated would be a massive understatement!  It has just driven me to keep going and grow this project.
So far I have had a few other quilters, mostly followers of my other blog, Cherry red Quilter, who have chimed in with offers to help.
Celia, a blogging friend from Melbourne and her non-blogging friend, Jennifer, send me a bundle of blocks to use. 
If you check out the link to see Celia and Jennifer’s blocks you will also see the draw string bags that Celia sewed for the girls.  Our lone female soldier gave me the initials of five more girls to make laundry bags for and I am working on them now.  Celia sewed 6 draw strings bags for us to send to the girls in the interim and these were filled with mini packs of tissues, soap, a notebook, and other goodies and sent off mid December and were just received the other day.
Then Tarnyia sent me more blocks and a quilt top for girly soldiers.  I hope some of them will be completed this week for the above five girls.
My new blogging friend Maria has promised to get her quilt group sewing and send me some “blokey” quilt tops in the next few weeks.  
And I have an even newer blogger friend from America, Agnes, who has asked what she can do to help.  Now that is a generous spirit!
In my next post I will give instructions as to how to make a laundry bag as I think they are the most important thing we can send the guys and I would like to be able to make more than I can sew!  Imagine being overseas, in fairly restrictive and dangerous conditions, working seven days a week, up to fifteen hours a day (and they don’t complain!!!) and then you lose your uniform as someone else has picked it up by mistake!!!  You can’t just go and buy another one and nor is it practical for you to get around in civilian attire!  
I hope you have enjoyed this story so far.  I hope it is going to keep going for quite a while yet.  Whilst we have soldiers, sailors and airmen in uniform I hope I and others will be making them quilts and laundry bags and whatever else we find that they need in order to show our appreciation.  If you are interested in becoming involved please email me or leave a comment!
Till next time…………happy stitching.