How To Get Started Sewing For Charity
If sewing or quilting is your passion and leftover fabric is beginning to take over the spare bedroom, here are some ways to put all those extras to work and be a good neighbor to those in need.
We live in a world where there is no shortage of needs. Natural disasters, illness, and financial crises are ongoing. If we work together, we can help to bring comfort and encouragement to many who live with the ongoing struggles of severe illness or catastrophic loss.
Never underestimate the impact of a handmade gift. Knowing someone cares enough to put forth such an effort will be appreciated for years to come. And your generosity may spark generosity in others, making ripples felt among every facet of society.
So, where do you start? Many sewers have a particular type of charity that appeals to them: sewing for kids, cancer sufferers, military heroes and their families, or our animal friends. Research those organizations that support your particular interests to find out their specific requirements before you begin sewing
Some sites may have patterns available to choose from. Those that don’t often have size or fabric requirements that must be met. And some discourage contributions from locations where tobacco smoke or animal dander can cause allergic reactions.
If you have a lot of extra fabric but little time, check with the charity you’re considering about donating fabric or other supplies to aid charity-minded sewing groups. There are many ways of blessing the needy, and we all share the responsibility to contribute to the welfare of fellow earthlings in need.
Check in with the Locals
You may be pleasantly surprised to find many local care-providing facilities that will welcome home-grown items. Some of the possibilities include:
- Social Services
- Homeless/abuse Shelters
- Food Pantries
- Religious centers
- Veteran centers
- Disaster relief organizations
- Animal rescue facilities
- Nursing homes
- Hospice care
- Emergency relief organizations
Local chapters of the below-listed charities can help you get your donations to those who need them in a timely manner, so ask about any organizations regularly distributing in your area.
Organizations for the Sick and Disabled
Like the popular Peanuts character, Project Linus seeks to ensure that no child in need goes without a security blanket. The organization provides donations in several categories, including the sick, homeless, and at risk. The site includes patterns and specifications for crafters at any skill level.
Newborns in Need
Newborns in Need seeks to provide necessities and joy to premature, sick, or impoverished newborns and their families. The organization distributes all kinds of baby items, including handmade bibs, blankets, burp cloths, and clothing items. Their site includes patterns and recommendations for the types of fabrics to use.
Preemies of the Carolinas
As the title indicates, Preemies of the Carolinas focuses on babies spending time in North or South Carolina hospitals. The charity provides preemie hats, blankets, and small sewn hearts to bring encouragement and comfort to babies and families in crisis. Although most hats are crocheted or knitted, sewers are welcome to donate quilts and blankets. Specifications can be found on the website.
Ryan’s Case for Smiles
The expressed goal of Ryan’s Case for Smiles is to help sick kids “feel better and heal better.” The organization focuses on bringing comfort and improved quality of life as children and their families endure the difficulties of hospital treatments.
One of the ways the organization brings smiles and comfort is with colorful, 100% cotton pillowcases. The website includes all the requirements for these easy-to-make cases. And the charity hosts a unique campaign in September to provide a pillowcase for every child in cancer treatment. That could be an excellent jumping-in place for beginners.
Sharing the Weight
Sharing the Weight is an unusual charity that donates handmade, weighted blankets to Autistic children. The blankets help Autistic children sleep through the night, sometimes making a near-miraculous difference for an entire family.
The weighted blankets are expensive to buy, making them out of reach for some families. There are hundreds of children waiting for these blanket donations. You’ll need to contact the address n the website about how to create a sewing group or make donations, along with instructions about making these wonderful blankets for challenged little ones.
Organizations for the Homeless and Traumatized
The Sleeping Bag Project
The Sleeping Bag Project assists the homeless by providing simple sleeping bags made from recycled materials. The sleeping bags are free to those suffering privation, offering warmth until they can receive the assistance they need.
The website contains instructions for making an “Ugly Quilt” sleeping bag using a modified crazy quilt pattern. These bags can be made with almost any fabric and filling. Homelessness is an ever-increasing issue in the U.S., and this is one way to help the destitute in your area.
Although the premise is good, the website seems to have some glitches. You may need to contact the organizations with questions about donating or adding your own group.
Quilts for Kids
The Quilts for Kids charitable organization assembles quilts for donation to children who have suffered or are suffering from trauma, sickness, abuse, or a natural disaster. Both individuals and groups can participate in making colorful quilts. Patterns, quilt requirements, and additional donation suggestions are available on the site.
Little Lambs Foundation for Kids
Focused on the at-risk kids in Utah, Little Lambs Foundation for Kids seeks to provide needed items for foster homes and struggling families. The organization supplies necessities such as diapers, baby supplies, hygiene, and activity kits. The foundation also distributes handmade blankets, totes, pillowcases, etc. Dimensions and free patterns can be found on the site.
The shelters where abused women and children go to find refuge can sometimes add to their trauma when lacking many basic provisions and appearing sterile or poverty-stricken. Enchanted Makeovers hopes to transform the outlook of the desperate and hopeless by transforming the physical spaces where they have gone to begin to heal.
Enchanted Makeovers seeks to offer beautiful, peaceful spaces to aid the healing process. Part of the contributions includes handmade items such as quilts, pillowcases, and chair cushions. Interested sewers will need to contact the organization to find out about their latest project needs.
Firehouse Quilts of Colorado
Colorado residents can consider joining fellow quilters for charity sewing days. This charity donated handmade quilts to families who have suffered house fires, accidents, violence, or homelessness. The organization contributes to firehouses, care centers, and social services.
You don’t have to join a group. Individual quilt donations from lap to twin bed size are also accepted. For more information about sizes, donation pick-up sites, and dates, visit the Firehouse Quilts website.
Sewing for First Responders and the Military
Quilts for Valor
Active military and veterans are acknowledged and blessed by the efforts of Quilts of Valor. The organization’s mission is to help facilitate comfort and healing with handmade quilts.
Groups or individuals may donate 100% cotton quilts at least 55 x 65 inches in size. The website includes specifications and patterns, along with donation instructions through local or state chapters.
Operation First Response
Operation First Response supplies a myriad of needs for wounded and disabled veterans. Handmade items sought by the charity include cot quilts of differing sizes, some small enough to fit in donation backpacks.
The backpacks are filled with essentials for veterans who arrive in hospitals with no personal belongings. Smaller cot quilts for backpacks can be 36- or 45-inches square. Larger sizes are also accepted and sent directly to hospitals or other recovery facilities.
Sewing for Animal Shelters
The Snuggles Project
The Snuggles Project’s goal is to make homeless animals feel more and ease as they are prepared for a new forever home. They accomplish this by creating a more homey atmosphere in shelters and rescue facilities.
The website includes patterns for sweaters and snuggle beds. Beds are designed to meet the needs of varying breeds of cats and dogs so that each can benefit from the “snuggle” of a soft, comfy bed, blanket, or winter coat.
Sewing for Intercultural/International Charities
Receiving a customized hospital gown is a highlight for children who must undergo extended hospital stays for treatment of chronic or life-threatening illnesses. Gracie’s Gowns offers a number of sewing projects for volunteers, although they limit who may donate the gowns themselves.
Instructions for bibs, nursing covers and pads, booties, and sleepers can be found on the site. Handsewn items are donated to encourage suffering children and their parents worldwide.
Friends of Pine Ridge Reservation
The 40,000 South Dakota residents of the Pine Ridge Reservation contend with ongoing poverty. The Friends of Pine Ridge organization strives to help bring some relief to shelters, clinics, and schools located on the reservation.
There are dozens of sewing projects listed on the website for sewers who would like to assist Native American peoples. Many focus on the needs of children from infant to school age.
The site also lists possible donations to benefit other tribes. Be sure to read the donation requirements carefully to find out about fabric print restrictions.
Quilts Beyond Borders
This charitable group supplies quilts to foster children throughout the U.S. and children in wartorn or naturally impacted areas worldwide, such as the Ukraine.
Quilts Beyond Borders accepts small, machine-sewn quilts from 40-45 inches wide by 48-60 inches long. Additional construction requirements and fabric print restrictions can be found on the website.
The NiCE Foundation
The NiCE Foundation focuses on meeting the needs of infants and young children in Nicaragua, one of the poorest nations in the Western Hemisphere. Some sewing projects accepted by the organizations include aprons, zippered bags, pillow cases, bookbags, and cloth diapers.
Sewers will need to contact the organization to learn more about specifications and locations to drop off contributions.
Dolls of Hope
Since 2016, Dolls of Hope has distributed tens of thousands of handmade dolls and bears in 41 countries. Simple pdf patterns and shipping instructions are available on the site. It’s easy to make these toys that can bring joy to marginalized children around the world.
Little Dresses for Africa
Based out of Rockwood, MI, Little Dresses for Africa works with African village leaders to meet needs for clean water, education, and other community issues. The website includes patterns for pillowcases, children’s clothing, and older girls’ hygienic items.
Please note that buttons are welcomed, but no zippers, as they cannot be repaired in the village. Monetary donations along with sewn items are welcome to help with shipping costs.
Also, check out the site Dress a Girl Around the World for even more opportunities to ensure every little girl owns at least one dress. And while that site focuses on girls’ dresses, boys are not neglected. Check out Britches for Boys patterns and donation information on Nancy Zieman’s blogsite.
Sew Powerful works to provide young women around the world with reusable feminine hygiene products that will help them remain in school or on the job more days each month. Sewers also make purses to hold the hygiene products, enabling them to be transported as needed without embarrassment.
The non-profit organization has established groups across the U.S., as well as a sewing staff in Zambia. Join with a group or launch out on your own with patterns included on the website. There are even machine embroidery patterns for the flap of the purse.
Another charity with a similar goal is Days for Girls. These charities focus on the needs of girls and women in areas where feminine needs are highly stigmatized.
This charity is perfect for those who don’t just love to sew but love to teach the skill as well. There are opportunities to donate quilts, sewing machines, and training time–both in the U.S. and in several foreign countries.
Owning a sewing machine and having the skills to use it can lift poverty-stricken families out of hopelessness into a productive future. Contact information on the website will assist you in participating in an existing guild or forming a new one.
Operation Christmas Child
As one arm of the vast charitable organization Samaritan’s Purse, Operation Christmas Child has donated millions of “shoe boxes” filled with personal hygiene, school supplies, and toys to children worldwide. Handmade items are welcome, including drawstring bags or stuffed animals and toys.
All items must be small enough to fit in the box with other necessary items. Operation Christmas Child has chapters across the country. Check out the website to find collection centers near you, as well as any local churches or other locations that may be having a “packing party” this year.
Patterns By the Score
Many of the above charities supply patterns for specific projects. Some allow more choices for individual sewers. The All Free Sewing Website has dozens of patterns to choose from, including PPE mask patterns and places to send them. Whatever your sewing interest, there is a charity somewhere that can benefit from it.
I only listed one charity for animal lovers, but believe me, every local shelter has needs and many welcome handmade items. Pinterest also offers directions for animal bed and clothing patterns. Contact local agencies and ask about their specific current shortages.