24 May, 2023
Volunteer’s compassion for veterans celebrated
EVERY year, thousands of volunteers contribute hundreds of hours towards their local RSLs, especially Margaret Plant of the Malanda RSL Sub-branch who dedicates her time to helping local veterans.
Margaret is well known for her charity, Operation Blankie, where she knits, sews and crotchets hundreds of “blankies” which are given to veterans for comfort.
Since she began Operation Blankie four years ago, volunteering has become the heart of all she does.
“My work and volunteering has given me a purpose and changed my demeanour for the better – I’m challenging myself every day,” she said.
“Volunteering helps you socialise and boosts your mental health. It gives you a reason to get out of bed in the morning, knowing that you are doing something worthwhile to brighten another person's life.”
Margaret helps coordinate 43 volunteer knitters and crocheters from around the local area including the Atherton Tablelands, Innisfail, Gordonvale, Mission Beach and Townsville as well as working with volunteers in other states including New South Wales, South Australia and Tasmania.
Over the past four years, the Operation Blankie team have made 2,500 items consisting of rugs, beanies, scarves, mittens, shawls and twiddle mitts.
“We are a social group that highly value camaraderie. Initially we met once a month, but now we have started meeting up every week. Volunteering is about giving back to our veteran community and that means supporting our own team as well,” she said.
On Australia Day, Margaret’s dedication and contributions to the veteran community were recognised when she was awarded with the RSL Queensland Far Northern District Australia Day Medallion, one of only two medallions awarded in her district each year.
“For me, it's a very humbling experience but as I say to my team, there is no one person on a pedestal. When I accepted the award, I accepted it on behalf of the group,” she said.
“It's about a group of people, some veterans, some family members of veterans long passed, who get together every week and knit and crochet, making items for those who have served their country and need a boost.”
Margaret hopes that volunteering efforts continue to influence younger generations and encourage more people to give back to their local community to drive change and ensure volunteering is inclusive of all members of the community.
“As the song goes, from little things big things grow – that’s how I started volunteering and that’s how Operation Blankie started.”
“For those thinking of volunteering there is always a place for everyone to get involved. No matter age, access or background go to your local sub branch and find a group that works for you.”