Knitting for a Cause – Providing Hope through Handcrafted Projects
Creative people are often charitable. This is especially true for prolific artists and craftspeople who create more products than they can sell, or who just prefer to give away their merchandise rather than make a profit.
Knitting and crocheting is becoming increasingly popular. More than 38 million people enjoy turning yarn into comfortable clothing, blankets, and accessories, according to the Craft Yarn Council. In addition, a growing number of these knitters are giving away their products to charity.
The Craft Yarn Council recently conducted a survey of 3,178 knitters and crocheters across the country. They found knitting and crocheting were popular across the nation, with about 28 percent living in the Midwest and 22 percent that hail from the Northeast. Of those surveyed, 84 percent said they knit or crochet three to four times each week; 58 percent said they pick up their needles or hooks every day.
The survey also found knitters and crocheters are charitable – six out of ten crafters surveyed said they made a project for charity last year. At 63 percent, hats are the most popular type of project made for charity, followed by scarves at 35 percent, and baby blankets at 32 percent.
When asked for the reason they knit or crochet, 51 percent said they enjoy making things for others. The respondents also said knitting or crocheting provides a creative outlet, fosters a feeling of accomplishment, and helps them cope with stress.
Donating to charities also provides health benefits for the giver. Cleveland Clinic says that giving can lead to:
- Lower blood pressure
- Increased self-esteem
- Less depression
- Lower stress levels
- Longer life
- Greater happiness
Organizations that Help You Knit for a Cause
Evie Rosen knitted afghans for homeless shelters in Wisconsin and wanted to get others involved. She realized people did not want to knit an entire blanket, but they would be willing to create individual 7” x 9” squares. In 1991, Rosen founded Warm Up America!, an organization that would accept and assemble small knitted squares into larger afghans. The organization also accepts finished blankets and clothing items for distribution to homeless shelters, hospitals, and other charities as needed.
Project Linus is a nationwide nonprofit that distributes new homemade blankets to children in hospitals, shelters and aid organizations. In addition to knitted blankets, the nonprofit accepts blankets that are crocheted, hand-woven, sewn or quilted.
Knots of Love is an organization where volunteers knit or crochet caps for cancer patients. The organization has sent out tens of thousands of homemade caps since its founding in 2007.
When foster children turn 18, they officially “age out” of the system. Many leave the system with few resources or contacts. Foster Care to Success offers resources and emergency funds to these young adults. Volunteers at Foster Care to Success collect handmade red scarves from September to December each year during the Red Scarf Project, and then distribute the scarves to foster children on Valentine’s Day.
Pets and wildlife can benefit from knit items as well. Leggings for Life is a group that provides knitted leggings for injured and disabled pets, for example. Leggings help Willow the cat glide her deformed rear legs across the floor so that she can move around the house more easily. Santa Maria Valley Humane Society offers Knittin’ for Kittens, where volunteers can knit blankets and cat toys.
Volunteers for the Baby Bird Nest Campaign knit soft and cozy nests for orphaned baby birds. This campaign has been overwhelmingly successful. In fact, they had received nearly 6,000 baby bird nests in their previous campaigns.
Wildlife Victoria accepts knitted or sewn pouches or liners to keep baby kangaroo warm and quiet. The little joeys appreciate these cozy accommodations, as do the opossums, wombats, wallabies, and koalas under the care of Wildlife Victoria volunteers.
Charitable knitting can benefit people and animals in faraway places or near your home. Knitters involved in the Mother Bear Project create hand-knitted bears to send to kids all over the world affected by HIV/AIDS. Each bear comes with a tag signed by the knitter, expressing unconditional love for the child.
Started in 2003, CloseKnit is the longest-running public program offered by Noble Maritime Collection; it donates knitted items to local charities. The mission of the Noble Maritime Collection is to “preserve and interpret the art, writings, and historical maritime artifacts of the distinguished marine artist, John A. Noble (1913-83) and to continue his legacy of celebrating the people and traditions of the working waterfront of New York Harbor in its collections, exhibitions, and programs.”
The Staten Island-based knitting group donates goods made to a number of community charities, such as The Seamen’s Church Institute’s Christmas at Sea program and the Elizabeth Coalition to House the Homeless. The club knits blankets for babies born prematurely at Richmond University Medical Center and fashions squares to make into afghans for the homeless. In addition, the group has joined forces with the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation to create knitted teddy bears for orphans in various parts of the nation. The volunteers even make scarves for merchant seamen who cannot make it ashore for the holidays.
If you enjoy knitting but are running out of places to store your completed projects, consider knitting for a cause. People and pets nearby and faraway are in need of quality, hand-knitted products made with the care only you can provide.
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