From Shanti's Mommy:
It's 3:30 a.m. and I can't sleep, so thought I would do something I should have done days and days ago ... update the Hats for Sailors project.
And the winner is: On November 11 I took the list of names of everyone who had contributed a beautiful, hand knit or crocheted hat, accounted for each individual hat (knitters who sent more than one hat, got an equal number of chances), mixed them up on my spread sheet, and went to www.random.org and selected the winner of the generous $75 gift certificate from Signature Needle Arts. And (drum roll) ... the winner was Marla Gardner of Santa Monica CA. Hopefully Marla already has her shiny new needles clicking away. Congratulations Marla and thank you again for the seven beautiful hats you contributed. Thank you again to Cathy Bothe of Signature Needle Arts for her generous contribution to this effort. It was a driving force in doubling our original goal of 278 hats.
Which brings me to my next item. We received over 550 hats and they are still coming in ... I received one in the mail yesterday. Here's what they looked like in my living room just before the Packing Party began on Nov. 17. My thanks to the post office for allowing me to keep several of their bins so I had somewhere to keep them. We actually have enough hats to outfit two entire ships with handmade wool hats. There were hats from all over the country, one from England and one from Singapore. What an amazing response.
I learned to be very careful when opening the packages as sometimes there were checks or cash included. All totaled, the cash contributions came to over $1800.
There were hundreds of letters from school kids in various cities around the country. One from NJ had a letter from every student in the school, from kindergarten to 8th grade and some from high school. My grandchildren, Allie and Nick, created holiday cards as did some of their schoomates.
November 17 was the Packing Party which we decided to hold in my garage. Students from Christa Mcaullife Middle School participated along with a couple of the knitters who had made hats, a couple of search dog handlers, my neighbors and a gentleman I ran into at Costco the day before. I was standing there with a flatbed cart, loaded to overflowing when a voice behind me said "does your mommy know you are eating all that candy?". I told him I was the mommy and what I was doing. He promptly pulled out $20 for the project and offered to come over with his two sons (who are in the Young Marines) to help. 20 people got right down to business and four hours later we were finished packing 14 big boxes of goodies.
At one point we had hundreds of gift bags in the driveway waiting to be rolled up, tied with a ribbon and packed into a big white box. Thank you Henry Ford for the assembly line concept!
DHL agreed to ship all the boxes to New Jersey where they will be loaded onto one of Shanti's dad's planes and flown to Bahrain. From there they will head out to her ship one way or another. We haven't figured that one out yet. Thank you so much DHL for picking up the boxes
at the house and shipping them at NO COST! This allowed me to spend several hundred dollars more on goodies instead of shipping costs. Too cool! Here they are, loaded and ready to go down the road: If you look closely, you will notice that the kids from Mcaullife sent notes of encouragement and love to all the sailors. I was also told that there were little notes written inside the flaps of the boxes as they were packed and sealed.
I wish I knew how to appropriately thank everyone who had a part in this effort. You all absolutely ROCK! Little did I know what I was getting into when I first talked to Shanti about this the day before the Decatur sailed out of San Diego. It was not a one-person project, it has blossomed into tens of tens working to make this project a booming success. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
I am hoping we get lots of pictures when the sailors get their gift bags. I'm also hoping that Shanti can arrange a mass picture with everyone wearing their gifts of love! Stand by for that.