During my 2010 deployment, I came upon quilts (fantastically well made quilts) that were given by our nurses to our wounded soldiers prior to them being evacuated from our FST. As I checked into their origins, I found Linda Swinford. Through the years, Linda and a team of generous and caring people have put in their hard work and time (and money) to make neck coolers, helmet liners, blankets and quilts for our troops. They have had a few names previously associated with them – First, “Operation Helmet Liner”, then “Citizen S.A.M.” … but eventually, Linda and her volunteers had moved on to become “Sewing For Troops” and “Homemakers Extension Association in Benton, IL”. I want us all to at least remember … “SEWING FOR TROOPS” (because it’s easier to remember than HEA in Benton).
Linda was kind enough to get in contact with me again, so as to send quilts, blankets and sheets to us at FOB Salerno. This gave me the opportunity to ask her more about her crew, how they do what they do, and more about the organization. Below is an edited excerpt from an email that she sent to me:
Currently, our "crew" consists of:
1. A group of volunteers who meet at Sandy's Sewing Center in Springfield, IL regularly to make neck coolers and serge around fleece blankets, the latter for our wounded heroes over there. They also make 100% wool neck gators from wool fabric for Special Forces when we have funds to buy the wool. Sandy designed this pattern, and SF loves the gators, as they are versatile for how they wear with helmets.
2. Jules, a Marine in Korea, and his wife LaMoyne who make neck coolers and troop quilts. LaMoyne is my quilting mentor.
3. Joann, in Salem, IL, who knits the wool ski masks (helmetliners) when we have funds to buy the yarn. She does beautiful work and has cranked out hundreds of these to warm our troops outside the wire.
4. After moving down here to Southern Illinois, we started a group of volunteers (Homemakers Extension Association in Benton, IL), who meet monthly to make neck coolers.
5. I work here in our upstairs with about half of the area committed to troops with the big longarm quilting machine, sewing machines, sergers, etc. My role has been to pick up from the various volunteers named above, maintain contact with our deployed troops, and ship to them.
Quite frankly, Linda and her group of volunteers could use your help. They have had very little support recently. I surmise that folks around the country simply have grown tired of the war, or just don’t realize that our troops are still out here in the fight every day. This year (reported as of June 22 ,2012), over 1,326 US Service Members have been wounded in action and 108 have been killed in action or have died of their wounds, while serving as part of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF). In total, 1,583 troops have lost their lives and 16,553 have been wounded in action in OEF.
We are still here, and our country will continue to have troops in harm’s way for the foreseeable future. Take the time, right now, to help Linda and her all volunteer team by making a cash donation. 100% of every donation has gone, and will continue to go, to buy materials or to pay the postage for shipping overseas. In the last 7 or 8 years, they have shipped somewhere between 90,000-100,000 neck coolers, helmet liners, blankets and quilts to our troops. Today they are in need of funding and most certainly appreciate your donation.
You can donate two ways:
1. Send Checks To:
Sewing for Troops
1750 W. Wabash Ave. Suite B
Springfield, IL 62704
Please visit their website for more information.
Note: This is a personal request, by me only, and should not be considered endorsed by the US Army, or any agency of the US Government. Sewing For Troops is a small, private, charitable organization. Currently, they have not had the funding to file for a 501(c)3 and therefore your donation may not be tax exempt.