Charity Knitting – 5 Ways You Can Help

First, I want to apologize for my absence on here. We’ve had a tough couple of weeks, with my mom in the ICU due to complications from her leukemia / bone marrow transplant. She is still in the hospital, but things are more stable than they were before. Cancer is such a horrible disease, and we’ve really been reminded of that over the past few weeks.

We flew to be near my mom, and I really wanted to knit and create while we were there. I didn’t want to make just anything, though. I wanted to work on projects that could give back somehow. I think that tough times remind me of how much suffering there is in the world, and it gives me a kick in the pants to start helping some more.

Luckily, I’ve had the privilege of knitting for several great charities over the past few years, so I knew what kind of items I could make. I’d love to share some of them, and hopefully get more knitters involved. :) When I first started looking for charity knitting a few years ago, I was overwhelmed at the choices. I wanted to find reputable charities that were truly getting the items to those in need. I’ve found several great organizations that do just that. A lot of these projects use scrap amounts of yarn and a minimal amount of time. If your kids know how to knit, these projects are simple enough that they can get involved.

1. Mother Bear Project

What it is: The Mother Bear Project is a group that provides a simple gift of hope and love through a hand-knit or crocheted bear to children affected by HIV/AIDS in emerging nations. Each bear is signed with the name of the person who made the bear. The coordinators at the Mother Bear Project take pictures of the children receiving their bears and email/post them. As always, the pictures from the latest distribution are so beautiful. They have stories on their webpage from some of the children who have received the bears, if you’re in the mood for a good cry. ;)

How you can get involved: All of the bears for the Mother Bear Project use the same WWII-era pattern. It is SIMPLE, which has been great for me. I need mindless knitting right now! The whole bear is basically made as a tube (knit flat or in the round, you decide), and then you split for the legs and pick up for the arms. The clothes are knit as part of the bear. I can finish a bear in a few hours of work, and they only require about 35 yards of 3 colors of yarn. If you have 50 yards of each, you can easily embellish as you wish. The bears do not need to be “realistically” colored (duh, they are wearing clothes, y’know…) so any yarn in your stash can be used!

The flat version of the Mother Bear pattern is available in the beautiful book, Knit for Peace, and it is also archived on the DIY Network’s site. If you have the $5 to spare, I really encourage you to order the pattern directly from Mother Bear. They will send you the pattern in the mail as well as a brochure explaining the program and a tag to attach to the first bear with your name on it. When you mail in your first bear (or set of bears) they will send you more tags. If you mail in more bears than you have tags, they’ll write tags for you.

For each bear that you send in, they ask for $3 to cover the “bear fare” (the costs to fly and get the bears into their new country.) When you pay for the pattern, your first bear’s “bear fare” is included in the cost, so there is no need to send in $3.

For more information, the Mother Bear Ravelry group is excellent. They host monthly challenges that include drawings for yarn and other knitty prizes :)

2. Wool-Aid

What it is: Wool Aid is a community of knitters that creates warm clothing for children in the coldest climates that have the least access to resources. All items knit for Wool-Aid need to be made of natural fibers of at least a worsted weight. The thicker the better.

How you can get involved: The Wool-Aid Ravelry group is a wealth of information. They keep an updated list of all of the current campaigns. Their blog also has details on where knit items are currently being sent and what is most needed. If you want to get involved, join the ravelry group or read on their website for which items are currently needed and their guidelines, and then mail them to their headquarters. I recently participated in a campaign for children impacted by the earthquake in Tibet, and I was so happy to be able to create some warmth to children who really need it.

3. Mittens for Akkol

What it is: Mittens for Akkol is a group that knits for an orphanage in Akkol, Kazakhstan. Akkol is very cold, with snow starting in August and lasting through April. Temperatures reach 40 below 0 and the orphanage is not well-heated. The organization was started by two parents who went to adopt two children and then realized that they wanted to help all of the children there in any way that they could. Each year the very active yahoo group makes up a database for all of the “graduating” children in the orphanage (those who have to leave because of their age) and helps to make a warm wardrobe for them, including thin and thick socks, sweaters and scarves. Each grad asks for certain colors, and knitters sign up based on what they would like to make. The group has a hard deadline for when the items will be delivered. They are flown out there in luggage and hand-delivered. It is beautiful to watch as everyone works to complete the projects for those children. The group also works on items for the “baby house” and other projects each year.

How you can help: Join the yahoo group and/or ravelry group, and see what is currently needed. There are always new campaigns cycling through, so it is easy to get involved.

4. Bundles of Joy

What it is: Bundles of Joy is a group that supports babies in the Pine Ridge Hospital OB Ward (which is part of the Pine Ridge Reservation.) Poverty is extensive on the reservation, and many of the babies have no clothes or other items waiting for them when they go home.

How you can help: Join the ravelry group and see what current campaigns are running. Bundles of Joy accepts non-knitted items as well, so feel free to check out their ravelry group and see what items are needed the most right now.

5. Your local hospital/homeless shelter

This one doesn’t need much of a description, but I really encourage you to see what is available in your hometown. When my mom was in treatment in Colorado, she was so blessed by the hand knit items that were donated to the hospital (and made by us.) A soft, fuzzy hat can bring more comfort to a cancer patient than you could ever imagine. Most hospitals have programs. Ravelry allows you to search by location, and you can easily see what kinds of opportunities are available in your hometown. If nothing is available, try calling your local hospitals as well as domestic violence, homeless and pet shelters. Needs are different depending on the population that is served, so you can easily find charities that would love items made out of yarn that might otherwise seem undesirable. For example, most cancer wards prefer that you use acrylic, whereas charities like Wool Aid or Mittens for Akkol are happy to take items that are not machine washable, since the population that they help doesn’t have washing machines.

If you knit for a great charity that isn’t mentioned here, please feel free to leave a note in the comments or email me. I’d love to hear about them and share the word!

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Comments

  1. Richard says:

    Hi

    In recent months I ave been approached by many knitting groups all looking for a charity that can use baby knitted garments.
    It would appear the charity they used to send the finished garments too no longer take them

    Do you know of a charity that requires support and supply of knitting!

    Thanks

    Richard

  2. There are lots! If you (or they) are on ravelry, there is a great charity knitting group there. I’ll copy and paste from their official list, but there are even more options if you go on their group.

    The national ones that I am personally involved with are:
    Wool AId – http://www.wool-aid.org/ and http://www.ravelry.com/groups/wool-aid

    Bundles of Joy – http://www.ravelry.com/groups/bundles-of-joy

    Afghans for Afghans (they are currently doing a campaign for kids-adults, but not babies. Their focus changes depending on the needs. – http://www.afghansforafghans.org/currentcampaign.html

    Mittens for Akkol – http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Mittens_for_Akkol/ (ages 3yo+)

    Caps for a Cure – http://groups.yahoo.com/group/capsforacure/ (they accept infant through adult caps)

    And then here’s the list from the charity knitting group, which contains several other ones.

    Babies and Kids with Medical Issues

    Bundles of Love – Every 4 hours, a baby in Minnesota goes home with a free bundle of 25 items produced by Bundles Of Love. Without this bundle, the baby would have nothing – no clothing, no bedding, no diaper bag. The parents frequently are unable to provide these basic needs and our volunteers have come forward to help.

    Caitlin’s Smiles – s a non-profit organization dedicated to putting smiles on the faces of children with chronic or life-threatening diseases by encouraging them to focus on creative arts activities that boost their confidence and self-worth.

    CARE Package – Our mission is to help CARE for all the other babies who, like Robby, don’t survive. This includes neonatal loss as well as miscarriages and stillborn infants. We hand-crochet and hand-knit items to deliver to hospitals, to be given to the parents as they prepare to say goodbye to their little one.

    Care Wear – Care Wear is a nationwide group of volunteers who knit, crochet, and/or sew, providing handmade baby items to hospitals. All Care Wear items are given free to infants, children and their parents.

    Heart 2 Heart – Making “angel dresses” for preemies, stillborn, and medically compromised babies in the Boston area.

    Heavenly Angels in Need – Neonatal, memory box, casket and comfort divisions

    Knitting for Noggins – Help make a difference in the lives of patients and families at Arkansas Children’s Hospital! Knit or crochet hats for children of all ages through our Knitting for Noggins program.

    Newborns in Need – Organized to take care of sick and needy babies and their families; and in cases of crisis, to help where help is needed.

    Project Linus – It is our mission to provide love, a sense of security, warmth and comfort to children who are seriously ill, traumatized, or otherwise in need through the gifts of new, handmade blankets and afghans, lovingly created by volunteer “blanketeers.”

    Mercy Knitters – A website for anyone who would like to knit preemie baby hats for the newborns in Mercy Medical Center’s NICU in Des Moines, IA

    Missing Grace – To provide resources and support for families that have experienced: pregnancy loss, infant loss, infertility or adoption and to advocate for comprehensive, patient-focused prenatal care for all women. Five core areas encompass the heart of the mission: Grieve, Restore, Arise, Commemorate and Educate.

    Mother Bear Project – Dedicated to providing comfort and hope to children, primarily those affected by HIV/AIDS in emerging nations, by giving them a gift of love in the form of hand-knit and crocheted bears.

    Stitches from the Heart – Stitches from the Heart is an IRS approved 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that sends handmade clothing, blankets, and love to premature babies all across the nation. We also have a senior program that helps seniors help others by donating yarn and supplies.

    TLC for Angels – We service several hospitals a year to deliver donations of handmade items consisting of hats, booties, blankets, sweaters, buntings, take-me-home ensembles, toys, activity kits, bereavement gowns, etc., generously and lovingly created by crafters located across the U.S. and internationally who sew, crochet or knit. For the benefit of those who would like to help but feel they are crafting-challenged, we have created ideas of how to help, such as our Angel Caches along with several other suggestions.

    Touching Little Lives – The extremely small size of many of these infants makes it difficult to find clothing that fits, and when it can be found, is often beyond the affordable range of many families. Every item which we provide is completely free of charge and no one in our organization receives any salary or compensation for their work.

    Warm Hearts, Warm Babies – We are a group of kind-hearted volunteers that help to make life easier for Colorado’s tiniest citizens. We sew, knit, crochet, and quilt for premature infants and babies in need. We donate to hospitals, crisis pregnancy centers, shelters, law enforcement agencies, foster care, WIC offices, and individuals across much of the state of Colorado.

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