Thursday, September 23, 2010

Stash Busting for World Peace: IBOL

IBOL II

So, somehow I had never heard of Iraqi Bundles of Love, the project of a soldier stationed in Iraq to get raw sewing materials into the hands of individual Iraqi women. I do not normally give in-kind goods for charity. They make the giver feel really good--and they actually cost the charity money to store, ship, and distribute; money that could be directly spent to buy more of whatever you sent for cheaper at wholesale and do more good for the beneficiaries. Money is always more valuable than goods.

However, this is the perfect type of project for sending goods. IBOL is not a 501(c)(3) charitable organization (a US tax status thing). It's not even an organization at all. It doesn't have a bank account or a budget and there is no place to send money. It is just one guy asking people to send bundles of fabric.

Because of the long years of sanctions against Iraq during the Saddam Hussein years, all goods are scarce. And because it has not been safe for aid workers during the war years, there are few charities to distribute goods now the sanctions have been lifted. The soldier who invented IBOL wanted to do something about this. I think he mainly reached out to the quilting community last year simply because his mom is a quilter, and since garment sewing and quilting don't have a ton of overlap I don't know that word has gotten out in our community.

Here is the word and please spread it! If you are in the US, you can send a flat-rate box to an APO address. The address is emailed to you when you leave a comment on the IBOL blog (the organizer does not want the address publicized for obvious reasons so I cannot provide it). A large flat-rate box costs $12.50 to mail to an APO address. You have to fill out customs form 2976a. It is the size of a half-sheet of paper--not the green one or the other one that's the size of the green one (this confused my post office very much).

You build a bundle of fabric (large pieces and solids or tame prints preferred) and whatever notions you may have. I threw in a large spool of thread (the Gutermann 1000 meter ones), a lot of buttons, and machine and hand-sewing needles. I made the simple needle book by stapling a square of fleece (flannel would be better but I didn't have any) into a folded piece of paper. Tie it all up with a ribbon so the bundle can be removed from the box and stay in one piece and send it off. For ideas, check out the What to Send page and the flickr photos people have uploaded (be sure to use the tag "iraqibundlesoflove" on your flickr photos).

I picked up two boxes from the Post Office (thank goodness there is one right next to the metro!) and it took me about an hour to select my fabrics, round up the notions, and build the bundle. I would have preferred to send more thread and maybe a seam ripper or thread snips in each, but with my limited mobility I haven't been able to make it to a fabric store.

I am so thrilled to be able to share some of my bounty with Iraqi women who have nothing, women who have probably not felt like America has done a lot for them. There are very few ways in which the average American can say to the average Iraqi, "We are all sisters under the skin." This is one remarkable way. Last year they received and distributed 3445 bundles. So far this year they've received 26.

You have until next Friday, October 1 to get your bundle in the mail.

Start packing.

22 comments:

Rosie said...

Trena - thanks for posting this. This is certainly a great thing to get involved with. Off to the Post Office for a box or two. Hope you are healing well.

NancyDaQ said...

Thanks for the reminder! I've been meaning to do this. I sent several boxes last year--glad it's taking place again.

CGCouture said...

Such a cool idea! I should do this next time I clear out my stash (right now it's rather bare) instead of giving it to Goodwill. :-) Thanks for the tip!

Sally said...

Thanks so much for posting this. I hope to send four boxes along to this - I have so much fabric - beyond life expectancy - that I don't mind sharing with those who really need it.

Sally

Becky said...

Thanks for posting this. I have never heard of it. As soon as he sends me the address I am sending at least one box.

Nancy K said...

Thanks for the information. I want to weed out my stash too, and this would be the perfect opportunity. I love it.

Jan said...

Be sure to ask for the military flat-rate box ... that's the one that costs $12.50 to send no matter what it weighs. I use these boxes to send coupons to overseas military bases, so I have a pile of them. I'll try to see what I have in fabric stash to send ;-)

Mary said...

Trena, Thanks for an informative post. I will send one this week. And, thanks for the comment on my blog :-) They *are* interesting.

badmomgoodmom said...

Actually, IBOL guy is married to the quilt artist, Kirsten La Flamme.
http://www.kristinlaflamme.com/

The thing started with a post on her blog and grew and grew.

http://www.kristinlaflamme.com/

Jana said...

I will for sure send one, if not two. Thank you for telling us about this!

FITZ said...

ok, that is fantastic. wow.

Angela said...

Thanks for posting!

A Sewn Wardrobe said...

Thanks for posting this. I am definitely going to send a box. (Though I do feel a bit guilty that I'm not being entirely altruistic - it'll be nice to clear out the stash a bit!)

Victoria said...

Thanks Trena, I was just wondering which organization I could send fabric off to. So this info came just in time! Now if I can figure out what to do with these extra patterns!

Rose said...

Trena,

thanks! I have some items that I can send. this is a very timely post.

Rose in SV

IBOL Guy said...

So -- I have to ask: How fun was it to put together the stuff?

patsijean said...

I am so glad that you are getting a chance to participate in IBOL.
I sent seven boxes last year, and it gave me a great deal of pleasure to share my love of sewing and help women who are trying to care for their families on very little.

I read the blog a great deal and learned that they love green in Iraq but culturally do not like cartoon-like prints so much. Fabric that can be used for pants for the boys or heavy skirts for the girls this coming winter will be appreciated also.

Each box I sent had at least 3 pieces of fabric (3 and 4 yard lengths), several zippers, spools thread, elastic, and lots of buttons. Some had scissors, needles, hooks and eye sets for skirts and pants. It was enormous fun to put together the boxes and it did my heart good.

Anonymous said...

I appreciate your posting this information. I followed through and put my bundle in the mail yesterday.

I am of an age when my contemporaries (and those slightly older) are dying off; I am given lots of sewing-related items. Alas, my children do not sew and have no interest in sewing so I am happy to have good places to donate some of these treasures.

I had some cotton short pieces, lace fabrics, tricot, cuddleskin, elastic, as well as scissors, pins, needles, and seam rippers to pass on. I imagine all of these will be put to good use by the recipient or traded and passed on to others who can use them.

Ginnie said...

What a great idea... I'd never heard of it, either! Thanks for sharing. I guess I better get moving, since I only have 2 days!

Vicki said...

Thats a really cool top. And for what it is worth I would wear a belt with it. I too have been wearing belts lately and don't see a problem with belts and empires.

Sharon said...

I must be living under a rock - I hadn't heard of this. But! I still have time, it's not Oct. 1 yet. Thanks for the post.

BrusselsSprout_Katharine said...

Good on you, and all other donors. World peace.