At last I can share more of the very special story that is 
“The Old Bags and the Dag who sew with Rags!” 

Back in March this year I received an email from Margaret and this is what she said.

“I work in Aged Care in Murwillumbah NSW as a nurse looking after residents’ clinical needs.  I also do the sewing group once a fortnight.  They have their little shop were they sell the items that we make but they would love to get involved with your wonderful sewing group with helping out our service men and women as a lot of them know all about being away from home comforts.  I have men that sew as well and I’m sure this would give them a very meaningful contribution towards your cause.” 

Of course I wrote back to Margaret, welcomed them to AHQ, thanked them for getting involved and sent the required information to her.

I get lots of inquiries from all sorts of people; some amount to nothing and others follow through but I never know which will be the ones that actually contribute.  As luck would have it I had another up date from Margaret telling me that they had just about finished making six laundry bags and finally I got word that they were nearly ready to send.

I received this message from Margaret

“making the laundry bags certainly made them feel worthy…they chatted along about how proud they were giving something back to the people that protect our country and others…
Our Don has put a story about it in the open door news letter as well…

we hope to finish them off at our next sewing I will let you know when they are done….and thank you for allowing these lovely people to join your cause..I will be in touch…”
Without warning I received this photo graph one Thursday night with the following explanation.
“we finally got 6 bags finished..the two ladies standing are the 100 yr olds…they are so proud doing these bags for our heroes …”

Well, I don’t know how you would have reacted but the night I received this photo the sand was flying everywhere and my eyes just kept watering.   I just had to share the picture so instead of waiting for a blog post I shared it immediately on Facebook.  The page went wild by Aussie Hero standards – over 8700 page views, 290 Likes, 83 Shares and 46 comments.

They even received comments and thanks from serving members – past and present recipients and their families.

Here is one of those comments.

“Well done Ladies.  Rest assured your work is truly appreciated.  Kind regards from one of the many satisfied customers in Tarin Kot, Afghanistan.”

And another happy customer

“I received one of these in Afghanistan.  So grateful to these beautiful ladies.  Touches the heart.  Thank you.”

And a message from a Mum

“Absolutely awesome effort!!!  I am the proud Mum of a son who has just returned from his deployment and who received a wonderful gift from AHQ and the efforts ar truly appreciated by the recipients of these wonderful laundry bags and quilts.”

At the same time I had just been emailing a particularly nice senior army gent about his quilt and I thought he would enjoy the story so I shared it with him.  He took time out of his busy day to send this message back for me to pass on to them.

“While I am already putting my laundry bag to very good use over here in Afghanistan, I just wanted to thank you all for your great support to the Australian servicemen and women over here.  I understand that the war in Afghanistan doesn’t enjoy widespread popularity back home, and that’s OK, but it is photos of the Old Bags and a Dag with their laundry bags, that makes every difference to an Aussie Digger far away from home.  So, thank you for your support, thank you for caring, keep making laundry bags and all the very best.”

I copied all the messages on Facebook and sent them to Margaret so that she could share them with the residents and this was her response.

“you can not imagine how all the residents feel after last week…they are all so touched by the whole thing,,,they were telling their family members to go on that facebook thing and have a look at what people were of course I was very busy writing down your site…This was just the best thing to lift all the residents spirits,not just the sewing group..some want to donate money towards the sewing because they can no longer see well enough to sew…one ex service man, Ken,  whom is also on the RSL board here..along with other ex service personnel has donated money towards fabrics and Ken said the club will match that on Friday….this is just amazing… ” 

The laundry bags were sent off to Tarin Kot and were received by this group who sent back this photo and the following message.

Dear Margaret, 

This email is to thank Elsie, Bertha, Audrey, Nellie, Bertha (Bebs), Harold and yourself for the wonderful laundry bags which were sent to Multi National Base Command – Tarin Kot (Rotation Six) earlier this month.
I’ve attached a photo of the recipients of the laundry bags.  The sixth laundry bag (Bebs) is being kept for unit history and will belong to the unit.
Its the kindness from such people as yourselves which make our deployment go so much quicker so its with heartfelt gratitude that I pass on my appreciation on behalf of all MNBC-TK.
Once again, many thanks and appreciation to you all.
Kind Regards,

Next the group decided to take on a quilt and asked me for a name.  The lucky fellow did not know what he was about to receive.  If I have my facts right, most of this quilt was designed by Harold and I think it is just brilliant!  I am just jealous that I didn’t think of this myself! 
What a classically Australian Quilt!

L to R..Audrey, Nellie, Harold, Bertha 101 this week, Elsie 101 years old, Eileen & Beb’s

Here they are at work – note the visitor who walked in off the street this day.

Meet Ken.  He is on the RSL & sub branch board,they donated $200 from each branch..

At last the time came to send off the quilt and laundry bag to our recipient.  The parcel was accompanied by a letter from Margaret sharing a little information about each of the contributors some of which I will share with you here.

This has lifted their spirits so much to be able to give back to such a worthy cause with them now living in aged care facility.

“Elsie turned 101 years young just recently.   Elsie was born in Grafton NSW with 6 sisters and 1 brother.   Elsie married and had 7 children,  2 young age.  For over 60yrs she and her husband had dairy & cane farms.   Elsie loves fishing & still enjoys doing so.  She has a 60year old coke bottle fishing line which she still uses. Will not use a rod.  She has been a part of the sewing group for 5 yrs.

Bertha Beadle is turning 101yrs young this week. She had 4 brothers. Her Uncle Sam served in WW1.  She was 7 years old when he returned home.  Bertha said she can remember that day as if it was yesterday.  They saw him walking through the farm paddock in his uniform, they all ran to meet him. All of his family was there to welcome him home. Uncle Sam bought home 3 silk scarves for his 3 sisters.  She has been a part of the sewing group for 5 yrs.

Audrey  is next.   Her father served in WWII and she remembers him coming home after spending a long time in hospital overseas with a badly injured leg.  Audrey feels very proud to be able to give to the troops overseas working very hard to protect us and other countries.

Nellie was born in Murwillumbah, lived on dairy & banana farms which her family worked. She has 2 brothers and 1 sister.  Nellie was a sewing teacher at school.  

Bertha R likes to be called Bebs.  Her husband to be was a prisoner of war in Germany, they then lived in Holland. They moved to Australia 1952 and lived in Sydney where her husband was a surgical technician.

Harold is all of 88yr young.   For 12 years he was in the CMF.  For 7 years of that he was platoon sergeant in the 41st Battalion at Murwillumbah.   Most of his life was spent around the Tweed area, cane farming.  He has 5 daughters and 1 son.   Harold came in to the Aged Care Facility suffering ill health.  He joined the sewing group and has not looked back.  He is a great contributor to the group.  He now has a sewing machine set up in his room and Margaret cannot give him enough sewing to do.  Since finding the sewing group his health has improved immeasurably.  Making these laundry bags for Harold is one of the best feelings for him, to be able to give to fellow troops knowing some of the conditions that you all endure.”

A she said, Margaret works at the Aged Care Facility but she also goes in on her day off to run the sewing day and spends time at home cutting out and preparing for their days.  She has to make sure that Harold is occupied and she does all his cutting out for him.   I can remember her telling me on the phone once that that Harold was complaining that he would be unemployed but 9am the next day as he had sewn up most of what he had prepared!

At last the quilt was sent off and we had to wait a little longer than normal to hear it had returned as the recipient had a couple of weeks leave around the time it arrived.  Finally Margaret and the residents could wait no longer (and I know just how they feel) and so I emailed the recipient to see if the quilt had arrived.  Yes it had and doesn’t that smile speak volumes.  

Here is one of the latest messages I have received from Margaret.  They are well on the way with their next quilt and another one waiting in the wings!

“we are moving along very well with quilts and bags…not telling how many – sewing group want it to be a surprise, God love them.  They are so proud doing this project.  Lots of chatter about the troops while we are sewing.  XXXX quilt will go off tomorrow for quilting – it looks amazing.  Nellie and I are the creators of his quilt and it has made her feel so special.
ON A TOP NOTE,Elsie was overjoyed when she received the birthday cards from you guys,she said it made her day..”

I arranged a birthday card for Elsie from the group who received their laundry bags in Tarin Kot and sent one myself.  I will do that for everyone in AHQ………………….who turns 88 or more!  😀

Well, I hope that makes your day.  It made mine.  

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