Sunday, February 20, 2011

Helping Those Who Serve

A few years ago I was reading the newspaper and saw an article that caught my attention. It was an article about a woman who started a project called Homemade Aghan Project or HAP for short. With the help of some of her friends, they began knitting or crocheting 6" x 9" rectangles. Once 49 rectangles were completed, other volunteers would crochet the rectangles together and complete the afghan. The completed afghans were then shipped to military hospitals in this country and overseas and given to wounded soldiers.

The article indicated they needed donations to help with the cost of mailing and so I sent some money in. When I first saw the article, the group had completed over 2,000 aghans. There are over 1,500 volunteers who help out - some make the rectangles, some collect rectangles, some design afghans at the quarterly Put Together Events (PTE) that are held in Maryland, some put the rectangles together to complete a blanket, some wash the finished afghans and some help with deliveries or mailings.

Fast forward to 2010. The project organizer put out a call for additional help. Since I don't knit or crochet I was wondering what more I could do to help out with this project. Since there was only two collectors in Maryland I thought I could help out and volunteered to be a collector. Another person also volunteered and so there are now four people collecting rectangles and finished aghans. Several times a week envelopes and boxes arrive at the house. This is where the fun begins. Picture a dining room table filled with rectangles 12" deep, assorted by color. Imagine a dining room filled with bags of assorted rectangles - in zip lock bags bigger than I could ever imagine. Imagine going to a PTE with all those bags and putting them with other bags in a large room. Tables are put up and people begin designing afghans with the rectangles. At the last PTE, over 300 afghans were designed. Volunteers contact another HAP member who sends design kits to be put together. These completed afghans are then sent to the collectors who get them to the project organizer who washes the blankets, photographs them to put on the website, puts them in plastic bags and attaches a note of thanks to them. She then mails these handmade afghans to military hospitals throughout this country and overseas.

Since I first became aware of this group two years ago, they have now completed more than 5,200 afghans. Can you imagine this - more than 3,000 in two years! The project needs each and every person who has volunteered in order to make this work. There are volunteers from all 50 states, Canada, and Mexico.

I love to get the boxes and open them and see the beautiful handmade rectangles that arrive. There are many different crochet patterns that are sent. Sometimes I get 7 rectangles and sometimes I get 174 in a box. I love to get the completed afghans to see how these rectangles have been designed and the uniqueness of each and every afghan. Each rectangle with made with love and made for our soldiers who have sacrificed so much to make our country free.

The term "it takes a village" really speaks to what this project is all about. I'm so glad I'm a part of this project and hope that those who receive these afghans know how much their sacrifices are appreciated by all the volunteers in this project. Now if I could just teach myself how to crochet...