A new guest post from our Scarves for Troops coordinators:
Even though the days are still hot for some of us, there is a hint of Fall in the atmosphere and it serves as an important reminder: If you’re planning on making knit or crochet scarves and hats, it’s time to put your needles and crochet hooks to work! Last year we were able to put a handmade item of warmth in every box! I know MANY of you have been knitting and crocheting all year long: THANK YOU very much!
Please help spread the good 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!
Our troops show their appreciation in countless letters and emails…..
Hello There! I’m in the Army National Guard currently serving in Afghanistan I just wanted to thank you from the bottom of my heart for the woobie — that’s what I call my knit cap. I love it. I received a care package this morning and the cap and your email was inside the box. I’m wearing it as I type and I just love it. Have a blessed day! Sincerely, Lucero G.
Penny shares a story with us that will truly warm your heart:
My mother and I were on a flight to visit relatives in Idaho, and I had my knitting with me, working on a scarf for Operation Gratitude (yes, I WAS permitted to take my knitting needles on the plane!). The flight attendant asked me what I was knitting, and when I told her about Operation Gratitude, she told me that her son was about to be deployed to Iraq.
Since I was nearing completion of the scarf, I hurried to get it done before the arrival of our flight, gave it to the attendant, and asked her to give it to her son and thank him for his service. She threw her arms around me and hugged me tight ~ I didn’t get her name or the name of her son, but what a rush it was for me, having that reaction from this hero’s mother!
My husband is a West Point graduate who served in Vietnam for a year. Upon his arrival home, I was able to introduce him for the first time to our 7-month old boy/girl twins! I am personally grateful that our troops today are being recognized for their service and acknowledged by wonderful organizations such as Operation Gratitude. Please keep up your good work ~ we may never know how much this means to our brave young men and women in uniform, OR how much our kindness to them is appreciated by their loved ones here at home. Sincerely, Penny W.
Thank you to Penny and also to your husband for his service!
We received an email recently from a man who has been encouraged to crochet because it would help with his stiff fingers. We are incredibly happy he stumbled on our website!
I came across your website by chance. I’m a retired gentleman who learned how to crochet after retirement with encouragement from friends to keep my fingers from becoming stiff. Started the first scarf today and will continue making them to send to your location in a few weeks. God Bless, Vic
The tan colored scarf is Vic’s FIRST scarf. It is perfection!!
Carol B. is one of our volunteers who crochets scarves all year round, among other wonderful acts of kindness toward our troops. Carol takes her crocheting with her everywhere she goes, and in conversing with others brings in more recruits to the cause. She tells us that an email we received and shared this past year is so inspiring she carries copies of it with her. Read that email here: A Care Package Saves a Life…Again
Carol says, “When people ask me why I am doing this I show them this email and don’t have to say a thing.”
It’s easy to see why Carol is being featured in this update. There is MORE!! She writes:
I said that when I felt that I had enough scarves to make it worth while that I would take a picture and send it on to you. No room for me with all the scarves. I had set a goal for myself this year to surpass last year’s total and I succeeded. That goal was 300 scarves. I then re-set my goal to 400 and yesterday I succeeded. I still can hardly believe it. I just wish more people would realize how much it means to our troops to hear from home and to receive special packages.
When can I start sending boxes? As you can see, my living room is pretty crowded with filled boxes.
WHOA!!! You can say that again!
A few FAQs and Answers:
1. When is the deadline for sending scarves and hats? 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. We would like all items to be at the armory by Monday, December 10th. That will allow time to get them ready, packed up, and worn by their grateful recipients by the end of December!
When packing up items for the mail, it is advisable to place them in a large plastic bag and sealing shut before placing in the mailing box. This insures they arrive clean and dry. Avoid individual plastic bags per item. We don’t usually include small plastic zip-lock bags in the boxes because the bags tend to fill up with air and take up some of the much needed space for other items.
Include a Donation Form in every package you ship or deliver** to:
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 — or you can find some here: PATTERNS. 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 (5-6″ across and about 48″ long) so they fit into our care packages. No fringe. You may notice that the size guidelines are a bit smaller than in the past. Do NOT be concerned if yours are a little wider or longer. It is still absolutely fine. Our scarves that are a bit large for our regular boxes are enjoyed and appreciated by our Wounded Warriors or our Veterans.
3. What 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.
It is best to steer away from red, white and blue as a color combination. Military cannot 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.
Please note: The scarves and hats we send are gifts from home. This 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? 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” 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
5. Will I get a letter of acknowledgment from 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 12 weeks. If you want confirmation of delivery of your shipment(s), please use the tracking system provided by your shipper. Please remember to include your name and full address, along with a completed Donation Form in each box you send us!
6. More questions? Please send us an email: Opgratscarves@gmail.com – we’ll reply asap!
Please remember — there will be many a service member in the frigid hills of Afghanistan or on a Navy ship 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:
Hello there, just want to express my gratitude for the scarf. That was very thoughtful of you to think enough of me to make this nice gift for me. It is cold over here and I will wear it with pride, thank you so much. CW2 Stanley H.
The scarf is wonderful, the weather has started to drop here and it will start snowing in a few weeks. We are stationed in the mountains in the East of the country. So it gets below zero during January here. I wear the scarf at night when the temperature drops and it really makes it easier when I have to be outside for a long time. Again, thank you so much for the wonderful gift. It is something I will treasure long after I come home. 2LT James W.
Thank you for your help and support making the Scarves for Troops Program such a fantastic success! In honor and memory of Sharon Howard, our dear friend and creator of this program (pictured, left), let’s make the 2012 Holiday Drive another big success!
You are all AMAZING and INSPIRING! Keep up the good work for this noble cause!
“Many Hands Make Light Work” — “Busy Hands, Happy Heart”