Welcome to another edition of 
Happy Mail Wednesday

On Monday I put out a call on Facebook for some pre-paid satchels if any non sewers wanted to contribute and I was delighted to find a parcel of them in the mail box on Tuesday.  Thank you so much.  You know who you are and I really appreciate it.  I am always getting quilt tops and blocks sent here and have to send them on as I can’t possibly quilt them all and piece them all here so help with postage is wonderful and prepaid satchels are the cheapest way to go my postie tells me.

First up this donation of fabric went from Sue in VIC to Janine in QLD.

In fact Sue has made the following offer to All Aussie Hero Friends.

Any Aussie Hero Quilters that would like me to chase up fabric and post to them, I would be happy to do so, if they could send me a pre-paid and addressed post bag. I will hold onto them and when I have got the right amount of fabric fill them and send them right back.

Now this hasn’t come to me in the mail but I thought I would share it anyway. Angela and the Chatting Chooks are a lovely group of 5 ladies whose children started school together in 2000. Now all have them in the final year of school (lucky them – all those Year 12 students at once!).
They try and meet once a month at Angela’s place as she have converted our home office into “The Perch”.   Seeing as they meet on Sunday’s it has now become Chook Church.   Of course they have a lot of fun, as do most groups.  Man I wish they were in Sydney!

Please remember, I love seeing pics of your quilts at quilt top stage but please remember to let me know when it is finished and ready to go and please remember to send me a photo.  I get SO MANY emails (which is a good thing) but I can’t remember all of them or who sent what so I really need the file of photos to make it easier.  Also the time it takes for quilters to take a quilt top and turn it into a quilt can vary from days to weeks or even months and I can’t keep track of them all.

Where we stand at the moment.

It is really important that as much as possible you keep me in the loop regarding finished quilts. I do not want to promise what we cannot deliver but I also don’t want to be saying no only to find there are quilts out there waiting to go that I don’t know about.  

HMAS ANZAC is on a 5 quilts per month quota.   They don’t seem to want laundry bags, or at least have not answered my questions regarding laundry bags but that could be because they are busy sorting out who is getting the 25.  I still need people to volunteer to make the quilts for January for them but no rush to commit as I have had a number of people who have said they will do more than one.  Actually, I was overwhelmed with the number of volunteers when I first called for quilts for HMAS Anzac, mostly from those with some sort of connection to the Navy.

DUBAI has a really good communication system and last Friday I received a bunch of requests  from them which have all be filled  but it has also put me in contact with the right people to arrange that future requests will come at the beginning of a member’s deployment which makes it easier to get quilts to them without having to rush.  I have asked for some warning the next time the information is put in the base circular which will give me a chance to be ready for it.  

AFGHANISTAN will always receive priority over the other areas.  This is for two reasons – the first reason is quite basic.   If you have read any of the articles that I have directed you to over the last few months you will know that the guys there are under constant threat.  I won’t go into details as some of you might not want to know.  Additionally there are guys out on patrol, as one mother said, they “being shot at” and there are very brave guys dealing with the IEDs (improvised explosive devices).  There are also fellows who spend their entire deployment with fairly basic facilities and they do so stoically and without complaint.  The same mother I previously quoted told me that this is the first time her son has a real bed to come back to at the end of each patrol.  

So, I do not at all feel conflicted about giving these guys priority.  

I have had some people query the validity of giving quilts to HMAS ANZAC – after all – they are safe and sound  on their ship with warm dry beds and good meals etc.   I can’t tell you what their lives are like in detail because I don’t know but I do know that they make a significant sacrifice to serve their country (and us) just in a different way.  Did you know that they get mail about once a month and only occasionally twice a month?  They don’t have regular contact with their families via email and skype and mobile phone.  In addition, just like the soldiers that deploy to Afghanistan they have already spent a good deal of time away from their families BEFORE they deploy training in readiness for their task.  And when they return from deployment I don’t believe they  get weeks off to spend with their families.

In recent weeks I have had a few emails querying why I do what I do, who I decide to support (HMAS ANZAC for one) and it occurs to me that, while I see all the emails from all of you that come in, no one else is in the unique position that I am to understand what everyone wants to do and what they don’t.  I probably need to explain that I rarely make decisions in isolation.  Sometimes I seek support or guidance from other Aussie Hero Main Players – the ones that are as passionate about AHQ as I am – the ladies that are working really hard behind the scenes but who you may not be aware of.  Sometimes I make decisions based on the number of emails I have had on a particular subject.

I am not “in charge” of Aussie Heroes.  I see myself as the coordinator.  I take all the good will and energy that you Friends wish to turn into tangible gestures for the troops and advise you where to direct it.  I seek out new directions and control and restrict some as guided by you.  I can only do that with your feedback, both good and bad.  

I just have one favour to ask.

Could you please sleep on it.

I often spend my evenings emailing back and forth with our overseas forces as that is when they are sitting at their desks on their offices.  If I action a request straight away then I can get all the information I need and hopefully pass that on to a quilter in the one session and it does not drag on  into the next day.  That saves me an immense amount of time – especially when you consider that not all these people are at their desk every day.  Some of them travel frequently.  Often my day ends after 11pm.

By asking you to sleep on it I am saying  – if you want to query, question or disagree with me on something – feel free – I need your feedback BUT I also need to get to the end of the night and feel everything thing is resolved and dealt with as much as possible so that my brain can shut down and I can sleep and function the next day.  

If you send off an email to me late at night it is often the last thing I see before I hit the pillow and two things happen – either I stay up later to draft a reply OR I go to bed and my mind is ticking over trying to draft a reply so I might as well just get up and answer it anyway.

If I receive the same emails in the morning  I can answer them when I an refreshed from a good night’s sleep and get on with the day after..

I hope you understand.
And now to some lovely thank you messages.

Wendy had a lovely surprise this week.

“I GOT A THANK YOU! and a extra special one it was too!!! I got home this afternoon from an interesting yet exhausting day – and yes I managed to slip one of your business cards into a conversation too! When I got home there was a parcel in the letter box – from Afghanistan! 

One of our care packages was collected by a female RAAFie and she sent a postcard and a deployment coin from Operation Enduring Freedom to say thank you…. Aren’t I spoilt!! XXXX is based at Tarin Kowt and said she “came across the parcel” on a visit to Kandahar. The parcel would have had a laundry bag and loads of goodies which she will “definitely give them a good home”. She is hoping to be coming home around Christmas.”

Recently Naomi from SA packed up all the quilts that were sewn in Berri at the sewing day organised by Helen from the Berri Uniting Church and sent them off to Egypt.   She and I received another lovely thank you message last night.

This from the Chief Clerk who has replaced Chelle who we all adored after her starring role in that wonderful thank you video.

My contingent received their quilts yesterday and everyone was most appreciative of them especially the time and effort that goes into it.
Please pass on our thanks to all the people who have put in such a fantastic effort and also may I say a big thank you to you for organizing everything.
I know personally once, I leave this operation I am getting mine professional hung and it will take pride of place amongst my many military souvenirs and never be forgotten.

Naomi also received this thank you from another of the contingent!

Recently I received an Aussie Hero Quilt from you.  I would like to take the opportunity to thank you very much for this generous gift. While we are away from our families on deployments it is always a great feeling to think that other Australians may be thinking of us and to also take the next step and send us something, even a card from school children is a great gift.
I really appreciate the time you and others from your organisation have taken to make the quilts and send them on to us. Please pass on our thanks to all who are involved in this great initiative.
Your generosity will not be forgotten
Thank you very much

Last night I shared a message that was posted on our Facebook page by a mum relaying a message from her son thanking Aussie Heroes for the quilt that Kirsten sent him.  I can now reveal that not only did he send that message via his Mum he also wrote an absolutely gorgeous letter to Kirsten personally.  I can’t share it here and it is just too personal and includes too much information but I can tell you enough to say that his mother should be very proud of him as it is obvious that he is a terrific young man and by young I mean JUST 19!  So, two things, have faith in the young men coming up in Australia as if they are anything like this young man we have much to be proud of and two – I am hoping Mum will pass on some details to me so that we can send his room mates some quilts and laundry bags as well so if you have a quilt underway  and would like it to head off to Afghanistan – WATCH THIS SPACE!

Just before I go – how is everyone going with their BOM Blocks for this month?

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