Friday, November 25, 2011

And the Beat Goes On ....

 What began as a simple request from a deployed son to a mom for a few holiday stockings for his troops has snowballed into the nonprofit Operation Holiday Stockings.  We are compelled to continue on this project because we need to.  We are receiving all of our requests this year directly from the deployed troops.  You read the following comments and tell me how to stop sending out these stockings.

Valerie in Seattle knit these patriotic stockings!

 From Afghanistan:  ... "is a fairly new squadron, activated just over a year, is looking for ways to show our soldiers they are thought of and to give them a little bit of home while they are away--especially during the holiday season. Please let us know if your program would be able to support us in any way. We appreciate your generosity. "

These are from the knitters of the Eastside Knitting Guild

 From Afghanistan:  A Company Family Readiness Leader asked for stockings "to aid with overall morale of the soldiers and my fellow battle-buddies…A lot of soldiers here get gloomy around (the holidays) during deployment so it's my job to try and get their spirits back up. Some of them do not receive care packages from their family. I believe this would be a great way to boost everyone's morale and get their spirits up. Thank you for all that you do."
More from the Eastside Knitting Guild

From Kuwait …"a member of the Junior Enlisted Council of military personnel from all branches with ranks E6 and below whose mission is to try to make surroundings on their small base a home away from home as they process service personnel returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. Waiting for transport home, there is not much for these service personnel to do on base. Since the USO club's air conditioner is broken, the club is only open a few hours a day, which strains morale. The Council is planning a big holiday party to boost morale and is looking for any type of donations to make it special. Any assistance we can give in anyway no matter how big or small is greatly appreciated."

Deb went on a shopping spree for us.

From Kuwait:  "Thank You for replying.  If no problem I have 10 soldiers in my section.  Happy Thanksgiving!  God Bless You."

The Cub Scouts of Pack 517 of Covington decorated these for the troops.

From Afghanistan:  "I am currently serving in Afghanistan till march 2012. I have 7 soldiers in my aviation cell, that I would love to give care packages/stockings to for Christmas. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks."

Karen in Thousand Oaks knit up this group of fun stockings.

From Afghanistan:  "I was wondering, how does one request stockings? I am coordinating a Christmas event for the unit. I have about 250 troops here in the middle east away from family and love ones over the holidays. Any assistance would be greatly appreciated and definitely improve morale. Thank you for your time."

Susan L knit these for us ...

From Afghanistan:  "I am very grateful to you and your organization. I can't tell you how many soldiers tell me they are gloomy because of their Christmas being in Afghanistan and not home." 
and then pulled out her sewing machine to make these ...

Undisclosed Location Squadronis putting together a holiday party. Most have families back home they will miss during yet another holiday season. Anything that could be sent to help will greatly affect our morale for the better! Thank you for your time and caring for your troops."
and these.

From Afghanistan:  "I am inquiring to see how my 18 man team can be included in receiving stockings? We are currently deployed to Afghanistan and will be here until May of next year."
Elaine heard of our need for stockings and went shopping for us.

From Afghanistan:  … "is currently in Afghanistan.  How do we become one of the lucky Soldiers to receive some of those awesome stockings for the holidays?"
Susan M of Bellevue has done it again, 305 stockings for OHS.
Undisclosed Location:  … "my squadron is having a holiday party for all of us who are currently in an undisclosed location … (deployed).  We are trying to put together a holiday party. Most of us have families back home that we will miss for Christmas, Thanksgiving, New Years, birthdays, and many more. Anything that could be sent to help our party out will greatly affect our morale for the better!  If I could get some stockings for this event to pass out as door prizes or prizes for some games we will be putting on that would be very helpful. If something like this is not possible I will completely understand. Thank you for your time and caring for your troops."
Rebecca sent us these beautiful knit, sewn and stockings she purchased for us. 

From Afghanistan:  ..."but if we can only get 5 it would be greatly appreciated. To have a stocking or small knick-nack for every person would be awesome though. But anything sent … will be very much appreciated!" 

Today I received this request and still haven't replied because I don't know if we can fill it.  We will, of course do what we can, but I am having a hard time telling this soldier that 500 is too many for us.  What should I say?

From Kuwait:  "We're currently deployed to Kuwait for the remainder of our deployment from Iraq. We spent five months at Joint Base Balad, Iraq. Our unit has 500 Soldiers who will be stranded in Kuwait for the Christmas season."

I have to be honest with all of you, this has been an emotional year for me.  Reading these letters from our deployed troops, who are giving of their time, energy, and lives, is tearing up my heart.  I want all of them home, but can't do that, so we send stockings.  All of us involved in OHS this year have commented on how we are getting requests for stockings just from the deployed soldiers.  We have also noticed how humble they are in their requests and how grateful for anything we can send to them.  This is why I don't have time to knit.  This is why we do what we do each year.  OHS isn't just about me, it's about the troops and the group of wonderful volunteers who have worked on this project from the very beginning. 

Oh, and yes, this is why my house currently looks like this ....
and this ...

Well, off to open up some more packages of stockings, sort through some donated goods, and get ready to stuff more stockings.  For all of you who have supported OHS this year, and in years past, THANKS.  All of you are awesome. 



Monday, November 14, 2011

We've Been Busy

Stephanie in Bellevue, Washington knit these for us!

This is the time of year where I turn my house over to Operation Holiday Stockings.  This is the time of year we receive requests to send stockings to our deployed troops.  This year we have received the requests directly from the soldiers, and we aren't saying no to any of them.
Linda of Cherry Hill, New Jersey knit up this batch!

During the month of November we sort the items donated for the stockings, and start stuffing them for mailing to the troops.
Lorainia of Ogilvie, Minnesota made these for us.

 It's a labor of love for everyone involved.  It's the least we can do for these soldiers who are away from home for the holidays. 

Diana of Marysville, Washington knit these darling stockings.

One of the pure delights of stuffing these stockings is looking at each individual stocking and see the love and support that goes into each one.

Elaine and Lisa knit these for us.

After they have been stuffed, the are a nice token of our appreciation to the troops in places we've never thought of going to.
Dianna in Lyle, Washington has been busy!

They miss being home for the holidays, and we miss having them here with all of us.
Mary in Green Bay, Wisconsin knit some more stockings for us.

With each stocking that has been sent to us for shipping to our troops, comes a message saying we haven't forgotten them.
Our house becomes the staging center where we sort out the items that are donated to us. 

 We happily accept donations of candy collected by school children for the troops, 
 or popcorn products from a corporate donor.
 Each stocking is stuffed, counted, checked, rechecked, counted again and then get boxed up. 
 This is the first batch going out this week.  These are boxes of love, support and prayers for our troops.

To all of you who have supported us for these seven years, we thank you. 



Saturday, October 29, 2011

We Need Stockings!!!!!

Yes, it's that time of the Operation Holiday Stockings season where I start to panic.  I panic and then I have to remember that there are a lot of generous people who will be helping again this year.  But folks, WE NEED STOCKINGS.  We are committed to sending 1600 stockings to deployed troops in Afghanistan.  It is a war zone and our troops need any type of morale booster we can give them.  Our stockings, as small as they are, help and we will continue sending them as long as we have to.  So far we have about 850 stockings.  I would hate to have to refuse some of the requests we have received, the requests that are coming directly from the troops themselves.  Please let me know if you are able to help.  If you want to send us a donation for postage that will truly be appreciated.  It costs $1.00 per stocking for postage and so far we have collected $900.00. 

So many of you have already sent in stockings, items for the stockings and money for postage.  Please considered yourself hugged and THANKS. 

In the last few weeks we have received stockings, and they are all beautiful stockings.

These are from Pat in Beaverton, Oregon. 
Betty in Seattle, Washington has been knitting up a storm again this year.  Some of these have little jingle bells on them.
 The Eastside Knitting Guild in Bellevue, Washington had these for me at our meeting this week.
As well as these.
Susan B in Bellevue, Washington gave us these. 

As I have said before, I love each and every stocking, whether they are knit, crocheted, sewn or a decorated felt stocking.  I do stop and take time to look at each one and appreciate the time, love and support that is put into each stocking.  Sometimes I am overwhelmed with the love these stockings represent. 

In the meantime Katie is stuffing stockings and taking count.

For all of you who have asked about Johnny, he is doing great.  He is back to playing and taking walks without his leash or support.  He thanks all of you for caring so much about him.  He says he is a very luckly little dog to have so many friends.

As for me, I finished my sabbatical and am back to work.  David is retired and living full time at Edgar's Acres staying very busy, and hanging out with Edgar, Louie, Johnny and Abby.  I'm working four days each week in Seattle and staying with very kind and generous friends.  I don't have as much knitting time as I did earlier because I haven't figured out how to knit and drive at the same time. 

Take care my dear friends. 



Friday, September 30, 2011

Johnny Says Hello and Thanks

Johnny asked me to do a special posting on his behalf.  He wants everyone to know how much he appreciates your prayers, love, wishes and concern.  The picture above shows Johnny two days after surgery.  He ended up have two herinated disks repaired.  Fortunately there were no complications and he is making wonderful progress. 

He will be using the back support for at least two weeks to help build up muscle mass in his hind legs.  He had become so weak from pain, and the muscles in those back legs started getting soft.  Yesterday he was able to "lift the leg" to pee, which he hadn't been able to do for several weeks.  Needless to say he was a happy boy.

I know those stitches may look rough, but the skin around them is now all white and the swelling has gone down.  The stitches will come out on the 3rd. 

Johnny came home with his own personal pharmacy.  I had to make up a chart to keep track of what when, and how long.  He has been an excellent patient and taking his meds as he needs to.  There is an antibiotic, muscle relaxant, anti-inflamatory, pain, nerve modulator, and steroid.  We are following directions to the T. 

He has his own personal studio apartment for at least two weeks.  Every few hours we put on the lead and walking support and we exercise and go potty.  We are happy to report that all functions are normal, which is a really big thing with neurosurgery. 

Johnny is happy to be home, and to be back with his buddies Edgar, Louie and Abby. 

Thank you all for caring so much for our little Johnny Cash.



Thursday, September 29, 2011

Operation Holiday Stockings Update

We continue to get more stockings for the troops for us to send this year, as well as postage money and stocking stuffing items.  The stockings above were made by my SIL Judi.  She pulled out her sewing machine and glue gun and got busy.  I love the little bears.

Linda in New Jersey sent in another batch of knit stockings.  I wish my pictures did a better job of showing off all of the stockings that come in. The colors in Linda's stockings are so pretty.

The Eastside Knitting Guild in Bellevue sent over this beautiful batch of stockings ...

...  and these.  They also sent over a dozen boxes of toothpaste samples for the stockings.  They were donated by a dentist in Bellevue, whose name is still unknown to me. 

OHS has been invited to submit a nomination to the Joining Forces Community Challenge created by Michelle Obama and Jill Biden.  I've been busy working on it and will get it submitted today or tomorrow.  There aren't any monetary prizes, but it would be nice to receive acknowledgement for the work everyone has done during the seven years we have been sending stockings to the troops.  Everyone who has made the stockings and donated items for them, as well as money for postage, are the real volunteers in this endeavor.  The officers of OHS are the coordinators and couldn't do this without all of you participating and providing your support.  I'll keep you posted on how this goes. 



Monday, September 19, 2011

Johnny Is Asking for Your Prayers

Johnny hurts.   He needs your prayers.  Many of you know this little character, but for those of you who don't, here is a bit of history for you.

We first met Johnny on July 24, 2007.  We picked him up as a rescue for Small Paws Rescue because he was a very sick little 3 month old puppy.  You see he had a Grade 6 PDA heart murmur and was in really bad shape, except for his spirit and loving personality.  Small Paws flew Johnny down to Texas A&M for heart surgery.  We thought we had said our good byes to him, but the adoption that was arranged for him fell through.  We were contacted to see if we wanted Johnny "to come home" and we said yes.  Our life hasn't been the same since then.

He came back wearing a premie t-shirt and going full steam ahead.  In fact Johnny hasn't stopped until recently. Life is to be loved to the fullest according to him. 

Edgar is Johnny's hero.  He adores Edgar, and Edgar has been the best big brother to him.  In fact, with Edgar around, Johnny has been the easiest puppy we have ever had. 

He adores Louie as well, and visa versa.  They are soul mates.

This is after his first "official" grooming.  It took me four days to catch up with him when he was still enough to get this picture.

He had to put up Johnny fences around our raised beds because he saw them as playgrounds.

Toys were never picked up.  As soon as we would pick up his toys (in any one of his three toy boxes/toy beds) he'd start playing with them all over again.

But then he might just sleep in the toy box.

As you can see, even when his buddy was tired and just wanted a nap, Johnny was still up for a game.  Poor Edgar.  Poor patient Edgar.

One of Johnny's favorite things to do is steal my EXPENSIVE yarn and share it with Abby, the Alpha cat. 

As he has turned into a four year old, he has finally settled down a bit to take a nap in the sun with Louie.

Now it's September 2011 and Johnny hurts.  He has a growth between the 3rd and 4th cervical vertebrae and is going to see a neurosurgeon and have a MRI tomorrow.  We aren't sure when the surgery will be but we are hoping it will be soon.  The mornings are the worst for him.  He cries and staggers and shakes in pain.  The pain meds take about an hour before he is calm enough to sleep.  He is eating a bit and all functions are normal, which is a VERY GOOD THING. 

Johnny is asking for your prayers through this ordeal.  We all want Johnny running again.  Abby wants to chase Johnny again.  Louie wants to sunbathe with Johnny again.  Edgar wants Johnny crawling on him again.  We all want Johnny loving life to the fullest again. 

Thank you for your prayers, thoughts and hugs, and for caring about our little Johnny.  I'll keep you posted.