Using Your Crafty Powers for Good

comments (4) September 22nd, 2008     

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Sister_Diane Diane Gilleland, contributor
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Bay Area crafter Khadija OConnell collected these blankets from other crafters around the country for Project Night Night, a charity that serves homeless children.
Donations of knitted and crochet gifts pour in from around the world to the headquarters of afghans for Afghans, which redistributes them to refugees from war-torn Afghanistan. Shown here are piles of donations awaiting sorting and shipping.
Emily Kizer and Jessica Long of the Portland yarn shop Twisted participate in an effort to knit mittens for bears rescued by Animals Asia Foundation.
Bay Area crafter Khadija OConnell collected these blankets from other crafters around the country for Project Night Night, a charity that serves homeless children.

Bay Area crafter Khadija O'Connell collected these blankets from other crafters around the country for Project Night Night, a charity that serves homeless children.

As a crafter, you possess an important power: the power to use your creative skills to bring comfort to people in need. There are so many charity crafting projects you can participate in on a local, national, and even global level.

Let's start locally. Check with your city's volunteer centers to find out where there might be a need for handmade items in your community. A local homeless shelter might be in need of warm knitted hats. A children's hospital might welcome a donation of handmade soft toys. Or there might be a senior-care center that would appreciate a gift of your time to bring craft projects to its residents. You can use your local phone directory to find ways to contribute in your city, or try these websites: SmartVolunteer, VolunteerMatch, or 1-800-Volunteer.

On a national level, there are lots of charity crafting projects being organized on the web:

ChemoCaps seeks donations of soft, hand-knit caps for cancer patients.

Care Wear coordinates volunteers across the United States who sew, knit, and crochet baby items and donate them to hospitals.

Warm Up America! collects handmade blankets, clothing, and accessories for people facing crisis or receiving medical care.

You can also find a long list of nationwide charity crafting projects at Sewing Charity and another at Wool Works.

If you read craft blogs, you can often find limited-time projects to participate in. A couple of wonderful recent examples were Tricot du Coeur, Softies for Mirabel, and the Barakah Life Handmade Baby Blanket Drive.

On a global level, you can use your crafting skills for good through these projects:

afghans for Afghans collects hand-knit or crocheted blankets, hats, sweaters, and socks to send to refugees from war-torn Afghanistan.

• The Animals Asia Foundation recently put out a call for hand-knit mittens for bears that have been rescued from China's bear bile farms. The mittens keep the bears' paws warm and protected while they undergo medical treatments after rescue.

This list may seem overwhelming—there seems to be so much need out there for your crafting skills! When you're first exploring the world of crafting for charity, it's wise to start small. Try making one item for one of these projects. If you find that you enjoy the process of making things for charity, then you can take on more. But be careful! It's so easy to overcommit.

Many charity crafting projects operate on deadlines, meaning that if you volunteer to help, you'll be expected to turn in your handmade donation by a specific date so that it can be distributed to someone in need. When you agree to participate in a charity effort, make sure you have plenty of available time in your schedule for the project.

Another important point is that when you decide to participate in a charity project, be sure to read all of the project guidelines thoroughly. Some projects require specific materials. Some require items to be made in specific sizes. Be sure that your donations are something the project can use.

Keep in mind, too, that if you're too busy to craft for any of these projects, you can always make a cash donation—any of these charity crafting efforts would be grateful for your support.

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Comments (4)

terrieware writes: Another great foundation is the Linus Project. They make blankets for people in need and the great part is that you can simply drop your handmade blanket off at a local site. Go to www.projectlinus.org for details.
Posted: 9:59 am on November 8th
Jen1964 writes: I'm hopeless at keeping groups together. If someone else starts, I can do my part, but I have trouble finding those other groups (already in existence). I'll look through those resources for sure, and see where they lead. It should be a huge help. As with most relaxational knitters, I do more than my family & friends need, and I feel very happy to have just a few more to knit for.
Posted: 10:22 am on October 4th
BrittKnit writes: Hey Sister Diane-

Really love the article. If your readers want some personal experience on starting a community craft project I suggest they read my article in the current issue of Knitty.com.

http://www.knitty.com/ISSUEfall08/FEATdiycharity.html

I hope everyone can benefit from your article as well as mine.
Posted: 11:36 am on October 2nd
ElainePDX writes: Hi Diane! The Portland Bead Society is sponsoring a project to make and send earrings and other goodies to our service women overseas for Christmas. Sandy Riegel, the owner of Jack of All Beads in McMinnville is organizing it. Let me know if you would like some more info.
Posted: 8:06 pm on September 22nd
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