How To Knit and Crochet For Charity
Some years ago, I became aware of the many opportunities available to knitters/crocheters to support local, national, and international organizations. How blessed we are as we sit knitting comfortably at home. Dedicated crafters hit the sales to fill totes with yarn for future projects–and there’s no shortage of projects.
Even beginning crafters can find satisfaction by donating hand-crafted items to people and animal charities. Those who have experience with the ravages of cancer or other illnesses, have loved ones in a nursing home, or understand the plight of the homeless or abused have many open doors before them. There’s nothing like a homemade hat, scarf, blanket, or toy to bring comfort and a sense of caring to the recipients.
There are too many organizations to list in one place. The All Free Crochet site has many listings and patterns, as do many other online sources. My purpose in writing is to raise awareness and hopefully inspire my fellow crafters to blanket the world (pun intended) with yarn-crafted love.
Charity Begins at Home
How can you begin to impact your own community with compassion, hope, and colorful knitted/crocheted goods? Here are a few local suggestions.
- Hospitals: Many local hospitals accept ongoing donations of hats, shawls, and blankets for all age groups. If they don’t accept directly, they can give you the name of the charity they use so that you can offer help through them.
- Nursing homes and hospices: Handmade lap blankets are easy to make and cherished by the elderly and disabled.
- Homeless shelters: Shelters often offer free hats, mittens, and blankets to the needy and marginalized of our cities. This is an ongoing demand that can never have too many contributors.
- Abuse resource centers: Although we all feel heartache when we consider the less fortunate, what are we willing to do about it? Hand-crafted yarn items are often treasured by children and adults in difficult situations when they feel isolated and invisible to the rest of the world.
- Animal rescue centers: For the mondo animal lovers among us, animal rescue facilities of all kinds are soliciting the help of crafters to make homeless, rescued critters more comfortable as they prepare for a forever home or to return to native habitats. Check out both domestic animal shelters and your local zoo for creative ideas.
- Veterans’ centers and first-responder charities: Say thank you to those who sacrifice to keep us safe and protected by supporting active and disabled members and their families as needed.
As you reach out, you may find other local possibilities beyond those listed here. You can soon find your own niche and set a goal for contributions, or let your gifts be spontaneous as you have the time and resources.
You don’t have to make a great variety of projects. A simple baby blanket pattern in various soft yarns and colors is quick and appreciated. Think comfort as you choose your yarn and work for emotional therapy, not just eye-candy.
Organizations for the Sick and Disabled
If you prefer to remain anonymous or work through an established organization, a simple online search will have your head spinning at the possibilities.
To help narrow the field, here are some of the better-known groups. Working with an established association provides greater reach for your efforts. They also provide structure when choosing yarns and patterns appropriate for the needs.
Crochet for Cancer
Crochet for Cancer provides handmade hats for cancer patients suffering hair loss. The organization has sites in over thirty states, Canada, and Australia.
American Heart Foundation
The Little Hats, Big Hearts program was developed to raise awareness about infant heart health and defects. They accept only red crocheted or knitted hats made with medium to heavy cotton or acrylic yarn to increase support for research in infant health issues.
Project Linus has chapters in all fifty states, with many local drop boxes for donations. The group focuses on the sick and survivors of trauma. They provide handmade blankets to children in hospitals and shelters, and their site supplies plenty of patterns to choose from.
Magic Yarn Project
If you prefer a more creative outlet, the Magic Yarn Project offers a different perspective for providing hats for kids suffering hair loss from cancer treatments. Bright colors, innovative designs, or faux yarn hairdos are fun and quirky for young ones who need a distraction from their suffering.
Other cancer charities that accept knitted/crochets donations include:
- Knots of Love. Accepts handmade hats and blankets for anyone undergoing chemotherapy.
- Knitted Knockers. Make handmade prosthetics for breast-cancer victims.
- Warrior’s for Hope. Knits hats and scarves for cancer patients.
The Binky Patrol
The Binky Patrol has chapters across the U.S. and offers donations to the sick and traumatized. “Binky” is a popular nickname for the blankets provided for children born with HIV, AIDS, drug addictions, or young ones suffering from other chronic or terminal conditions. They also distribute gifts to abuse centers and those entering the foster care system.
Alice’s Embrace distributes handmade lap blankets and prayer shawls to those with Alzheimer’s Disease. If you have witnessed a loved one suffer from this debilitating condition, you may be interested in putting your crafting skills to work for this organization.
To further contribute, consider purchasing yarn and patterns through Amazon Smile in their name.
The Homeless and Traumatized
Warm Up America
Warm Up America seeks to assist the homeless or displaced by leaving handmade clothing such as hats and scarves in public areas, sometimes with encouraging notes. They also accept 7 x 9-inch knitted or crocheted squares that are assembled into blankets for the needy.
Care to Knit
Care to Knit donates knitted and crocheted scarves, hats, and lap blankets to those in shelters, nursing homes, hospices, and hospitals.
Pink Slipper Project
The Pink Slipper Project donates slippers and socks to women and children in homeless shelters or centers for victims of domestic violence. Handmade donations help remind those who have suffered trauma that someone cares for them and they are not alone.
The Cuddles Box
Here is a unique idea presented by Bev’s Country Cottage. The lovely idea is to contact other crafters you know to help make small, cuddly animal toys. These toys are offered to local children to give joy during a difficult time. It’s a wonderful idea that can be expanded as you see fit to bring a ray of sunshine to your area.
Military and First Responders
Soldier’s Angels seeks to encourage and support military members and families in a variety of ways. The organization has a sewing and crafting team that contributes blankets to deployed military members and baby blankets to expecting parents at home.
Similar organizations that handicraft items from hats to socks for deployed active military include:
Military and first responders receive thanks and support with the care packages distributed by Operation Gratitude members. Click “Volunteer” on the website for information about handcrafted donations and patterns.
Guardian Angels Animal Rescue
Guardian Angels is a no-kill, nonprofit animal rescue organization that accepts handmade blankets, toys, coats, and more donations. They are a group of volunteers working to save animals from the streets and other dangerous situations.
Comfort for Critters
Comfort for Critters supplies blankets to animals in shelters as they wait for their forever homes. Amazon carries pattern books for crafters interested in this charity.
Charities such as Comfort for Critters are especially interested in colorful accessories for black or dark-colored dogs, which seem more difficult to place. The subconscious bias against these creatures, sometimes called “Black Dog Syndrome,” can be lessened by the welcome of a bright, cheery coat or scarf.
Ask your local shelter about this issue. Although this charity is based out of Scotland, they are not the only ones aware of the stigma.
A similar organization providing blankets for rehabilitating domestic animals is the Snuggles Project. Your local animal shelters will be able to provide you with information about the closest associated charity to work with.
Wildlife Rescue Nests has chapters all over the world. Check with your local zoo or other wild animal rescue shelters about the opportunity to crochet nests for recovering birds and other small creatures.
If you have a fondness for marsupials, several charities accept contributions of handmade pouches for abandoned young.
- For Australians joeys–Wildcare Australia
- For possums and squirrels in the U.S.–Appalachian Wildlife Refuge
- Australian marsupials–Aware Wildlife
Octopus for a Preemie
Octopus for a Preemie is based in the UK, although its origins may be in Denmark, where it was called spruttegruppen. The group also has a US chapter with its own specifications.
Why an octopus? The feel of the curly octopus legs is believed to be reminiscent of the mother’s umbilical cord, giving comfort to premature babies in NICU incubators.
afghans for Afghans
Afghans for Afghans was inspired by the Red Cross’s efforts to supply handmade hats, socks, sweaters, blankets, etc., to soldiers during the two world wars. This humanitarian effort seeks to send hope and comfort to the displaced people of Afghanistan during these troubled times.
Lily is an acronym for “love in the language of yarn.” The group is based in Turkey and was founded to assist Syrian refugees who have fled from government unrest to Turkish refugee camps. The organization focuses on displaced children. They ask for donations of 8-inch squares to be assembled into blankets or for balls of yarn to be used by contributing crafters.
The Mother Bear Project
For those with more advanced skills, the Mother Bear Project offers comfort in the form of handmade teddy bears to children in developing countries with HIV/AIDS. The site supplies all the needed instructions and requirements for donations.
This Knit for Syria site requests knitted or crocheted items for children in Syrian hospitals. They accept blankets, scarves, gloves or mittens, teddy bears, and jumpers. Although thousands of articles have already been donated, the need is ongoing and significant.
Knit a Square
Even smaller amounts of leftover yarn can be put to charitable use for organizations such as Knit a Square, where 8-inch knitted or crocheted squares are joined to become blankets or scarves for orphaned, vulnerable children in South Africa.