Well, the Good News is that the first box full of drawstring bags for the orphans/abandoned children of Bulgaria has been shipped! Here you see a large portion of the bags stacked and ready go in the box (not all bags are pictured, some were still awaiting drawstrings at this point...so if you don't see your contribution in the picture, please don't panic!) A HUGE THANK YOU to all of you who sent bags and/or money donations so that this Sewing For Orphans project can get off the ground. I've listed your names in the righthand sidebar...please let me know if I have missed your name or you would prefer not to have your name published.
I owe a very special, huge, HUGE thanks to Amy Darger Stewart, a local friend who came to my rescue this past week. She and her daughter Jean-Marie went out and bought more cording for the bags that didn't have cords, which they then inserted into the bags (about half the bags didn't have cords yet). They also bought an assortment of hard candies and little notebooks and pencils for each bag, which is more than these kids receive at Christmas.
They then lovingly loaded all the goodies plus the laminated bookmarks (thank you to all the local children who helped color these!) into each of the 60 bags. I also included 7 yards of Pellon DecorBond for the orphan girls in the sewing classes to use when they make bags and other things to sell.
Amy insisted on paying to ship the large box to Bulgaria, which I was very grateful for because I haven't even come close to breaking even on all the expenses I've incurred for pattern publishing, travel to QuiltMarket, etc. and I haven't started receiving income from my fabric yet because it's just now getting distributed.
We both figured it would be between $100 and $200 to ship the box to Bulgaria. Anybody want to take any guesses as to the actual cost? Herein lies the hiccup....
Since the box was over 35 pounds, they were going to charge $800 (!!!!) to ship it. Which, of course, is out of the question. Amy was able to split it into 2 separate boxes, but it was still $400. Super duper, giant OUCH. I'm going to split the cost of it with her, but we've got to figure something out for future shipments. And if any of you feel like you want to contribute to help offset the cost, there is a Donate button in the righthand sidebar set up for that specific purpose. I can't stand asking for money, but it's for the orphans so that's what I'm doing.
I'm going to look into shipping future boxes to one of the college interns who go over there to volunteer at the orphanages. If I only have to pay for shipping to somebody in the US, and then whatever fee the airline charges for an extra piece of luggage, that's a lot less expensive than the alternative. I'm also going to look into getting some corporate sponsors, but to be honest I'm not sure how to go about doing that. Anybody have any ideas? I'm all ears at this point. I'm finally getting to the point where a large number of people have said they're going to make bags and some have already shipped them to me, and now that we finally have a box ready to ship, it turns out that the cost is more prohibitive than expected.
This is the back page of the Slug+Snake pattern, where I describe a little bit about all the work that One Heart Bulgaria does to help these children. As you know, I'm donating all the net proceeds of this pattern to OHB in addition to heading up the Sewing For Orphans project. Every time I see pictures of these kids and think about how they are crammed into cold rooms with no Mommies or Daddies to tuck them in at night, read them a story, or soothe their cries, it just breaks my heart. No child should ever have to start life parentless or abandoned. The work we're doing is just a drop in the bucket and a tiny fraction of what these children need, but I'm hoping that it will help them know that they are loved.
I keep thinking of the Starfish Principle. Do you know that story? A storm had "beached" hundreds of starfish, and a boy was throwing them back one by one. A man asked him why he bothered; there were so many it would be impossible to save them all. The boy replied, "It makes a difference to this one," and he tossed another starfish into the surf.
I feel very strongly that I shouldn't give up on this project. Things will work out, and we'll be able to figure out a better way to get the bags over there. Sending big bear hugs to all of you who have helped make this project a success! I'm so grateful for all your help, and I know we'll be able to bless the lives of hundreds, if not thousands, more orphans in the months and years to come. Thank you!
Oh - one more thing - my friend Stacey, who was letting me use her business PO Box as an address to publish online for where to send completed bags, is moving. Please email me to know where to send them from now on. Thanks again!