Cathy Dyson writes about King George County. You can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sending a little warmth to Japan
A national group of volunteers who crochet and knit blankets for babies, children and others in their communities are making a push to send boxes of blankets to Japan.
Project Linus has 371 chapters across the nation, including groups in Culpeper and Spotsylvania. Some King George County residents also are members of a club in La Plata, Md.
The group is organizing an effort to send blankets to children in Japan as well as to approximately 30,000 families of U.S. military members who will be evacuated. Project Linus National Headquarters is encouraging chapters to make blankets and seek donors who will cover shipping costs.
Here’s an email that recently went out about the effort:
Subject: NOTICE FROM PROJECT LINUS HEADQUARTERS- 10,000 BLANKETS NEEDED FOR JAPAN
We finally have an action plan to get blankets to children in Japan, for anyone who is interested. This is a purely voluntary opportunity. Your local obligations are first priority.
In addition to children in Japan, approximately 30,000 US families will be evacuated to the US with essentially nothing and will be temporarily living on US bases. So some of the blankets will stay here on Military bases. Blankets will be shipped via the US Military and an organization called Soldiers Angels. They will be distributed by US Military personnel.
Here’s the background story – Diane (our contact) is a Community Network Coordinator for Soldiers’ Angels of Wisconsin. 6 days ago, they received 200 blankets from Kelly, our North Central Wisconsin chapter coordinator. That very evening were on their way to Japan. At that time they had already dispatched from their Soldiers’ Angels warehouse in Texas 20,000 boxes to Japan. 10,000 on the USS Ronald Reagan, and 10,000 by air into Okinawa so our Marines can distribute to families in need. She said that they have a strong connection with our military forces and employ veterans to run the warehouse. This is why they are able to get packages to Japan very quickly when asked by our Military Personal. Here is their website: www.soldiersangels.org.
In addition, we received the following information from a wife of a just retired Air Force officer:
I wanted to let you all know what is going on here and how the US government is responding to those US citizens who wish to evacuate. I’ve now word that military families are being evacuated as well even if they are not in the radiation zone due to supply and electricity issues.
Right now people are already being housed in gyms etc in Japan to await flights out. They are being monitored for radiation and illness. The US is chartering planes and flying them to our local Air force base. Next they will be placed on buses and brought to our post. They will be taken to our theater and given a briefing. Next they will be taken to a small gym and go through a series of stations set up to again check them for radiation, illness, assess their needs and take their information. Pets are being taken to warehouses. Women and children will then be taken to one gym and men to another. These facilities have already been closed for other purposes.
Cots and blankets are being set up in the gyms. They will have access to showers and bathrooms however they will not be allowed to leave the gym once they are there do to security concerns. They will receive one to two hot meals a day (depending on supplies) and given MRE’s for the other meal(s). They may have brought laptops and other devices but I’m not sure how they will be to recharge these things and apparently the Wi-Fi will be completely overwhelmed so may be shut off entirely. I’ve honestly no idea of Japanese cell phones will work here or if they will be setting up phone banks for these people to call out.
There have been calls for donations of diapers, baby food, and respite care givers to go in and help with the children. I will be doing these things as well as sewing as many small lovey blankets as possible to hand out. This could SO easily have been me and my children last November.
I’m aware of this as the wife of a just-retired Air Force officer. While I understand the security concerns, this is going to be a frightening and difficult time for the dependent, particularly the children. They’ll be separated from their homes, members of their family, friends… and then having to eat MREs (Meals Ready to Eat–calling it a ‘meal’ is a stretch). It’s likely that many “key and essential personnel”, which my husband was, will be required to remain on base to handle things, which adds to the stresses. When I heard of this, I immediately thought of Project Linus, who I used to make blankets for when I lived in Hawaii. I think it would mean so much to these children to know people are thinking of them during a frightening situation.
Thank you so much,
Project Linus National Headquarters
PO Box 5621
Bloomington, IL 61702-5621