Operation Gratitude’s Holiday Drive and the 2011 Fall/Winter Scarf Project will soon be up and running full speed ahead starting mid-September. We look forward to receiving lovingly handmade items of warmth to send to our troops, and it is our goal to include a handmade scarf or hat in each and every care package.
Our first Assembly Day for care packages is Saturday, October 15th. We have three assembly days in November…. the 6th, 25th and 26th, with our final assembly day of the season scheduled for Saturday, December 17th when we will send our 700,000th package!!
Please use this flyer and help spread the word – to senior centers, Girl Scout troops, yarn shops, craft websites, bloggers — anyone who you think may want to help out with this project to show their appreciation to our troops!
A special “thank you” to two Austin, TX women who are spending hundreds of hours crocheting scarves. Eighty-three-year-old Mary Lou Ellison and her sister, 81-year-old Pauline Swanberg, have completed 500 scarves so far and will be sending them to us to send in our care packages!! It takes them three to four hours to crochet each scarf. Pauline’s daughter Darlene Simril suggested the idea to her mother and aunt and is also helping.
Mary Lou says she stays up past midnight making scarves. “Just to let them know we appreciate what they’re doing. What little we do might help a little bit,” she said. “Feels like I’m helping someone.”
Mary Lou and Pauline said they plan to make as many scarves as possible, but sometimes on their fixed income they run out of money to buy the yarn. If you want to help them, email email@example.com for more information.
Go to this link to see the KVUE news story and learn more about these wonderful ladies: Austin Sisters Crochet Scarves for the Troops
And if that’s not enough, watch this inspiring Fox News Channel story about 98-year-old Joan Mazzarelli here: Knitting for Troops since WWII
Another letter of appreciation: I would like to thank everyone from OpGrat for sending us the great scarves. I would also like to thank Granny in Glendale for the blue scarf she made. Sorry it took me so long to write back to thank you all. Thank you for the scarf Miss Aggie S.! SSG G.M., Afghanistan
Here are answers to some Frequently Asked Questions:
1. When is the deadline for sending scarves and hats? We will begin loading up our care packages on October 15th, and our final packing day will be on December 17th.
We encourage our loyal knitters/crocheters to send the items you’ve so lovingly completed over these many months early on and then to continue making scarves and hats, sending an additional mailing later on, so we receive mailings over time as opposed to all at once – giving us time to process the items for inclusion in the packages to grateful recipients. We would like all items to be at the armory by Monday, December 12th.
When packing up items for the mail, it is advisable to place them in a large plastic bag (as many as will fit in a single bag) and seal it shut before placing in the mailing box. This ensures they arrive clean and dry. Avoid individual plastic bags per item.
Find detailed shipping instructions and tips here.
Where to Send:
Operation Gratitude/California Army National Guard
17330 Victory Boulevard
Van Nuys, CA 91406
Attn: Scarves For Troops
2. Is there a pattern for the scarves and hats? There is no specific pattern to follow so feel free to use your own. We do recommend that you keep them simple and perhaps use slightly larger needles so more can be made! Please keep your scarves within our size restrictions (5-7″ across and no longer than 45″- 50″) so they fit into our care packages. NO FRINGE.
3. What types of yarns and colors should we use? Any soft yarn is fine and any color will be accepted, but if possible please keep the colors on the subtle side–blues, browns, olives, grays, maroon, and black are all good choices, as well as appropriate for male and female troops! Stripes using these colors or multi-colored yarn is acceptable.
Note: It is best to steer away from red, white and blue as a color combination. Military can not wear a depiction of the flag. Scarves can be red and white or blue and red or blue and white, but it’s best not to use the three colors together.
We will accept scarves and hats made from wool, acrylics, or non-flammable fleece materials. Try to avoid scratchy fibers, since the items will be worn next to their skin. The softer the better!
The following is a message from Carolyn Blashek, Founder of Operation Gratitude:
The importance of the scarves in our packages is to send the very warm and loving message that people at home care enough to take the time and effort to make something as beautiful as a scarf. Our scarves, hats, etc. are not “regulation,” so they can only be worn by the troops during their moments of rest and when
they go home. Nevertheless, the message they send is enduring. Due to potential allergies and/or Military uniform restrictions, please list the fiber content on your “Made With Love” note that you attach to the scarf.
4. Should I attach a letter or note? Yes, please! We make sure that all hand-made items include a short note and an e-mail address. If you could do so for each of your hats and scarves it would be most helpful — and makes it even more special when the item is personalized. It can be as simple as “Hand-made with love” along with the fiber content of the yarn you used OR a note or letter telling about yourself, including your email address or your home address. If you’re uncomfortable including your own e-mail or home address please feel free to use OpGrat@gmail.com
5. Will I get a letter of acknowledgement for Operation Gratitude? Yes, we will keep track of all the scarves and hats you send or deliver to the Armory, then send you a thank you letter within a few weeks after the completion of the Holiday Drive. Please print out this Donation Form, complete it and include a completed form in EVERY carton you send to Operation Gratitude. This form is required in order to receive an acknowledgment of receipt from us.
Please remember – there will be many a soldier in the frigid hills of Afghanistan who will cherish receiving one of your warm items, so please continue knitting and crocheting right up until our deadline in December!
They say it best! More letters from the troops:
Thank you so very much for the package you sent to me. I received it just in time for Christmas. Well, I returned to the base after being gone on a month long mission with a Special Forces team. I loved all the items in the package. I really like the hand knitted scarf. Please let the one who knitted it know that I really like it. I know you all do this and send out these packages and probably never hear from those who receive them. So, from the bottom of my heart from a career (18 years plus) Soldier. Thank you! Sincerely, SSG M.S.C.
Thank you all so much. It’s been a long time since I have felt that somebody in America still appreciates us. Most of the general attitude seen around town is starting to get pretty poor. These packages let me know that some people still care. I love the thought and greatly appreciate all the effort (especially those scarves, those things are NICE). I’m sure that my kids will love the stuffed animals when I get home. For those of us who have children, we can picture our own kids writing little letters to soldiers and sailors; drawing pictures and such, and it really hits home. I’m sure that I’ll write more later, whenever I can. It’s not the same as what you guys are doing but I just wanted to show you a little of the gratitude that I feel. Thank you. R/AT1(AW) A.C.
Many of you have gotten to know my good partner in this effort over the last months, Lorene Van-Ark Miller. She has been involved with the scarf project since the beginning. Should you have questions, please send either one of us an email.
You are all AMAZING and INSPIRING! Keep up the good work for this noble cause!
“Many Hands Make Light Work!”
In honor and in memory of Sharon Howard (pictured, left), our friend and creator of Scarves for Troops Project, let’s make 2011 a successful Holiday Drive. Thank you in advance for your help and support!
“Busy Hands, Happy Heart!”
With love and gratitude,
Elaine Campbell firstname.lastname@example.org
Lorene Van Ark Miller LoreneM@socal.rr.com