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Letter: Volunteers, Acts of Kindness Can Make a Difference

A letter to the Editor from JoAnne Camara.

My name is JoAnne Camara and my son just deployed to Afghanistan, for the second time, on January 2, 2012.

I had heard about a group of volunteers from Wisconsin who make “Camo Quilts” for our deployed troops. In November, I requested one for my son, hoping it would arrive for Christmas, but found out that the group has a backlog of about 6-10 weeks. Once I received my son’s deployment address, I would have to contact the group with his up to date address so they could forward the quilt to him in Afghanistan.

On January 9th, I called and spoke with Linda Wieck. She made the first Camo Quilt in 2006, for her deploying son-in-law. She listened patiently through my emotions and tears, and asked that I email her the address so that she could be sure to have it correct.

When I emailed her, I thought about the other 25 troops in my son’s group, and requested that they be put on the Camo Quilt’s receiving list as well, thinking that in 6-10 weeks, a little something from home would be very welcome.

The next morning, my son was able to contact us to let us know he arrived in Afghanistan safely, and mentioned that he would be working with another group of 26 Navy Seabees led by his good friend John.

It broke my heart to think of those other 26 guys and gals receiving nothing while my son’s group got these amazing quilts from home. I had heard that the quilt group would ship the pieces to me to make the quilts myself, to speed up the assembly, so I contacted Linda again to see if she would ship me the kits for 26 more quilts. I typed out that email with a running list in the back of my mind of who among my friends & family has any idea how to sew, and wondering what I was getting myself into.

A few hours later, Linda responded, “We have discovered that your son’s order is at the top of our list. So is that 52 that you need? And does that 52 include your son?”

I was floored. They would send out 52 quilts, one to my son and 51 other soldiers, I just had to pay the postage. I tried not to cry.

The next day, I received another email from Linda letting me know that she had shipped all 52 quilts. All she asked was to be reimbursed for the $139.99 in postage. However, if I wanted to send a donation to the Legion, which is the umbrella group that runs the Quilt program, it would be very much appreciated because the group works on donations and can only buy more materials when they receive enough donations to do so.

I went on the Camo Quilt web site and learned that it cost the volunteer group $25 per quilt for materials. So I have decided to Pay It Forward and raise at least the minimum goal to pay for the quilts that the group sent to my son and his group. 52 x $25.00= $1,300.

If you would like to Pay It Forward with me, please make checks payable to Franklin Legion Post #387 and mail to:

JoAnne Camara
15 Wilcox Lane
Bristol, RI 02809

John Tattrie February 21, 2012 at 09:28 PM
JoAnn, I would most certainly donate to the men and women in your sons unit. I have had the pleasure of watching him grow-up and he is a fine example of a true American. Both his kindness and his willingness to support his country have drawn my admiration for him and his fellow soldiers. Check on the way.......!
Angela Machado February 24, 2012 at 12:10 AM
OMG JOANNE... I WOULD LOVE TO HELP!!!
Sara Bagwell February 24, 2012 at 02:19 AM
John and Angela, thank you for your comments! I'm sure JoAnne will be thrilled!
Virginia Cairrao February 24, 2012 at 01:36 PM
JoAnne, I would love to sew a quilt for one of the soldiers. If you would like me to sew one, please let me know. Ginny Cairrao - ginnyc812@gmail.com
JoAnne Camara February 26, 2012 at 01:56 PM
You are all so wonderful! It is people like you that have given life to this "Pay It Forward" To Our Soldiers project! I can also be reached at jctopside@aol.com - Thank you All for sharing this journey with me - and I will watch for your check John!

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