Now before I get sidetracked – someone out there is anonymous! It is really frustrating for me, but it also means that you, oh anonymous one, are missing out on the delight of reply emails from me!  So here is what you need to do – Check out the instructions in this post from Sweet Simplicity.  That should set you on the right path to coming out of anonymity so that we can all talk to you!
Now time to update you all on things that have been happening in the background for a while now.  When I first started my quilt group off sending quilts and laundry bags to Afghanistan, we were given the direct address for the friendly Warrant Officer (WO), a.k.a Mr Posie, the handsome (and he is) soldier husband of Jennie from Posie Patchwork.  Now I have been very protective of his address and his identity as, like a lot of the guys and gals over there, his details, photo etc are not allowed to be published.  No problems. Everything went through me and everything we sent went through the family and friends mailing system.
At some point however the friendly WO will return to Oz and I will need to establish another method of getting everything to the right people in Afghanistan.  On New Year’s Day I received an email from a Major (MAJ), who just happens to be a quilter, and she and I have been in touch ever since.  The MAJ and the WO have done some research and have been liaising and it has been decided that the best people to distribute what we send over are the chaplains or the padres.  I couldn’t agree more.  They are best placed to know who needs a little boost or who needs mail etc.  They are also able to make sure that the quilts and laundry bags get to the guys in the outstations, not just in Tarin Kowt.  It is the guys in the outstations that are really doing it tough!
Also, if Aussie Hero Quilts is to grow like I hope it will then I need to be onside with the Department of Defence.  I could keep sending things using the family and friends postal address but it seems to me that that is not the right thing to do.  It is not what the Dept of Defence wants either.  That address is really for Defence  mail and for family and friends to use.  If everyone who wants to send a care package sends  through the same address there is a risk of clogging up the system.  As much as our quilts are important, letters and parcels from loved ones are much more important.  Also sending masses of parcels to specific guys, like the WO, increase their already demanding workload – not that there have been any complaints mind you, but AHQ should be a stand alone entity with an independent way of getting things over there.
I am not getting into the realm of sending care packages of goodies as I know some people do and if you do that I am not getting into whether you should or not – I tend to think those parcels are just as valuable to a soldier with no family mail as the family parcels are to a soldier who is lucky enough to get them.  This blog doesn’t deal with care parcels.  I am keeping strictly to the quilts and laundry bags.
After much liaison and discussion an address has been established to handle all welfare and humanitarian mail, which is what our quilts and laundry bags are considered to be.  It will operate just the same as the other address I have been using – i.e. all parcels in Bx2 boxes under 2 kg will go free.  There is only one difference.  The address will only be in operation twice a year for about a month each time; in time for ANZAC Day and in time for Christmas.  I don’t see this as being a huge problem.  Yes, I would like to be sending off stuff all the time, especially laundry bags, but you have to learn to work with the bureaucracy if you want to get along with them.  
So, the first mailing dates are 15 March to 15 April.  I am not going to put the actual address on the blog but if you email me for it I will send it to you.
Now you have a choice.  If you are making completed quilts you can send them direct and pay no postage.  In coming blogs I will include details for labels and so on.  It is really important that all quilts and laundry bags sent are identified as having come from Aussie Hero Quilts.  The more we get the name out there, the bigger our profile will get and the more support we will get.  It is really important that the recipients know how to get in touch with AHQ as well as the person who made their quilt or laundry bag.
I am planning to send as many quilts as I can in March/April and then I am going to work on collecting 16 quilts to send to the WO so that he can pass them on to the guys and gals that come in to replace his team when they return home.  After that I will start collecting for the Christmas mailing.  
Each quilt will just about fill a box.  I am also planning to send a laundry bag with each quilt.  I would like to be able to send a bundle of laundry bags over for distribution but I suspect that the boxes will be handed out unopened and I don’t want some poor guy ending up with ten laundry bags and nothing else.  I have a few ideas how to get around that and I will let you know when some of the questions I have asked get answered.
The other thing I am seeking an answer for is whether we can somehow label the boxes so that the person distributing them knows if there is a feminine quilt inside.  I hate the thought of a butch guy getting a pretty pink quilt.  Until I get an answer on that I might suggest that if you are fixing to make a quilt, and I hope you are, it might be wise to stick to gender neutral or masculine.  If you are working on a girly quilt that is no problem I can still send them over to the WO or the MAJ who can hand them out in the short term.    
Quilt blocks, quilt tops, laundry bags, donations of fabric and BATTING can still come to me for completion etc.
I think that is enough information for now – let me know if you have any questions.  Sorry there are no pictures tonight – tomorrow night I promise there will be some!
Till next time…….spread the word and happy stitching!