When Bonnie McCabe learned about "Operation: 40 Winks," she didn't think twice about getting involved.
"I just followed up saying this would be a very nice thing to do," said McCabe, founder and president of the Community Learning and Information Center in Manlius.
Operation: 40 Winks provides service men and women in Iraq and Afghanistan with creatively decorated pillows. Through CLIC, McCabe and volunteers helped supply more than 120 handmade cases to the cause, and they're willing to make more if asked.
"I took one home and I played with it and within a half hour I made six of them," McCabe said. "I thought 'we can do this.'"
McCabe and her helpers who range in age anywhere from 8 to 84, met Thursday mornings from 10 a.m. to noon with 12 people working as teams -- one person pinned, one person sewed, etc. They used donated fabric pieces to design funky cases, and wound up with even more cases than Graham asked for, which was a mere 100 for this group -- they totaled 120.
Additionally, kids who come together through a CLIC summer program called "SPARK" made and wrote cards to attach to the pillowcases.
"We had one little boy who wasn't really a sewer, so he made more cards," McCabe said. "I love doing intergenerational programming and this is just a great way of doing it."
Operation: 40 Winks began in 2004 when Jeff Graham's nephew USMC David Graham left for Iraq under Operation Iraqi Freedom. Graham and several co-workers created this grass-roots effort after trying to include more practical items in care packages going overseas.
"These little pieces of home became an instant hit with the troops for their beds and on their HMMWV seats," Graham said in a brief summary on the project.
More than 600 airline-style pillows have already shipped to the troops. A company based in Illinois has donated 600 more pillows this year.