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Knitting Rays of Hope

9 More Charities Looking for Yarn Crafters

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Knitting Rays of Hope

There are so many people who would like to put their favorite hobby to use helping others! Here are nine more good causes that are recruiting yarn crafters, suggested by our readers.

1. Knit-A-Square

Photograph from Knit-A-Square at Facebook

Knit-A-Square invites yarn crafters to join in a project that is simple enough for even beginners: knit or crochet an 8-inch square. The collected squares are sent to South Africa, where they are assembled into blankets for orphaned or vulnerable children affected by AIDS. These blankets, along with toys and knitted clothing, go to children in 54 countries. Over 12,000 knitters have contributed already, and you can join them at Facebook or at the charity’s forum.

2. The Snuggles Project

Photograph from the Snuggles Project Facebook page

Rae French learned to knit in 1960, and used a blanket she made to keep kittens warm when their mother died. After that experience, she began to make security blankets, or “Snuggles” for her animals and those of her friends. She founded the Snuggles Project as part of the Hugs For Homeless Animals organization in 1996, which connects good-hearted yarn crafters with animal shelters near them that could use security blankets to comfort animals and make the place feel more homey. Go here to learn about donating your time and effort.

3. Halos of Hope

Photograph from Halos of Hope at Facebook

Pamela Haschke battled breast cancer in 2004 with chemotherapy and other treatments. She found out that losing your hair hurts physically as well as psychologically, and her favorite caps to wear during that time were the ones that were handmade with love. She founded Halos of Hope, a non-profit that collects colorful caps for cancer patients from knitters, crocheters, and seamstresses who donate their time and skills. See the guidelines here, and see more of the hats and the donor community at the Halos of Hope blog.

4. Elephants Remember Joplin

In 2011, a tornado roared through Joplin, Missouri, and killed 158 people and injured a thousand more. And the town was flattened. Eight-year-old Cee Cee Creech wanted to do something to help the survivors, but what? One thing Cee Cee knew how to do was make knit elephants. To make that work for Joplin, she made it a marathon and took pledges from the community for every elephant she made in a project called Elephants Remember Joplin. Cee Cee raised over $3,000, and presented the money to the Red Cross Joplin assistance fund and the elephants to people in Joplin only a few weeks after the tragedy. She eventually raised over $10,000 to help rebuild homes in Joplin, then Cee Cee turned her talents to helping other causes. She makes elephants to give to those in need, and to sell and raffle off for charities. Other knitters joined in, and now a community of knitters work together to knit toys and clothing to fund charities all over the world. You can keep up with their activities at Facebook.

5. Mats for Cats

Cathy Coulter and Tish Cavalier aren’t so much looking for knitters to make things, but want to appeal to knitters for donations of leftover yarn. Color doesn’t matter, and the type matters little. They use the yarn to make soft cage liners in their Mats for Cats project. The yarn is knitted into blanket-like padding used as cage floors at cat shelters. Mats for Cats is affiliated with the Potsdam Humane Society in Potsdam, New York, but the mats generated are shared with shelters all over, and feral cats as they are identified. The Stray Cat Alliance received these. The mats shown here went to the Houlton Humane Society. There are stories on the Facebook page about how some mats end up as security blankets for the cats.

6. Project Linus

Photograph from Saint Francis University

In 1995, Karen Loucks read about a three-year-old who went through chemotherapy with the help of her trusty security blanket. Loucks decided to supply the Rocky Mountain Children’s Cancer Center in Denver with homemade security blankets, a goal which eventually became Project Linus. Project Linus went nationwide, and still gathers homemade blankets for children distributed through hospitals, shelters, and aid agencies. The organization has chapters all over the United States. Donated blankets can be sewn, quilted, hand-woven, knitted, or crocheted, but must be high-quality and free of smoke or pet hair.

7. Wrapped in Hugs

LifeSource is the organization that coordinates organ donation in Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota. Their Wrapped in Hugs program aims to present a handmade wrap/blanket to every family of an organ donor at the time of donation, as a thank you gift. Volunteers are needed to knit or crochet wraps, because about 600 are needed every year.

Gift of Life is an organization that encourages and coordinates organ donation in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware. They have a program called Wrapped in Hugs that seeks yarn crafters to make knitted or crocheted wraps as gifts to donor families, presented at their annual Donor Remembrance Ceremonies. Volunteers are needed to make wraps by October first.

8. Feel Better Friends

Photograph from Feel Better Friends at Facebook

Are you still making dolls, even though your children are grown and everyone you know has one of yours already? Make one for Feel Better Friends! Volunteers with Feel Better Friends crochet dolls to resemble a specific child dealing with any traumatic health issue. The dolls have the same hair and eye color as the child, and the hair/wig can be detachable for children going through chemotherapy. The point is make the child feel less “different” because of the health issue. To volunteer and learn how to make the custom dolls, you’re invited to join the FBF Volunteers in Training group at Facebook. You can also request a doll for a child you know.

9. Knitting Rays of Hope

Knitting Rays of Hope collects handmade knitted, crocheted, or loomed hats to give to babies in neonatal intensive care units and to cancer patients. They have distributed over 2400 hats since 2012. Here’s what you need to know if you want to make them a hat. Follow the progress of the organization at Facebook.

See also: 10 Charities Looking for Yarncrafters.

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These Mobile Libraries Roaming Zimbabwe Are Pulled By Donkeys
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The people behind the Rural Libraries and Resources Development Program (RLRDP) believe you shouldn’t have to travel far to access good reading material. That’s why they have donkeys do a lot of the traveling for the people they help. According to inhabitat, RLRDP manages 15 donkey-powered library carts that deliver books to communities without libraries of their own.

The organization was founded in 1990 with the mission of bringing libraries to rural parts of Zimbabwe. Five years later, they started hitching up donkeys to carts packed with books. Each mobile library can hold about 1200 titles, and 12 of the 15 carts are filled exclusively with books for kids. The donkeys can transport more than just paperbacks: Each two-wheeled cart has space for a few riders, and three of them are outfitted with solar panels that power onboard computers. While browsing the internet or printing documents, visitors to the library can use the solar energy to charge their phones.

Donkeys pulling a cart

Carts usually spend a day in the villages they serve, and that short amount of time is enough to make a lasting impact. RLRDP founder Dr. Obadiah Moyo wrote in a blog post, “The children explore the books, sharing what they’ve read, and local storytellers from the community come to bring stories to life. It really is a day to spread the concept of reading and to develop the reading culture we are all working towards.”

Kids getting books from a cart.

About 1600 individuals benefit from each cart, and Moyo says schools in the areas they visit see improvement in students. The donkey-pulled libraries are only part of what RLRDP does: The organization also trains rural librarians, installs computers in places without them, and delivers books around Zimbabwe via bicycle—but the pack animals are hard to top. Moyo writes, “When the cart is approaching a school, the excitement from the children is wonderful to see as they rush out to greet it.”

[h/t inhabitat]

All images courtesy of Rural Libraries and Resources Development Program

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Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images
This Just In
Lin-Manuel Miranda is Penning a 'Love Letter to Puerto Rico' to Help the Relief Effort
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Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images

Like so many other Americans, Lin-Manuel Miranda is pained to see the devastation in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria. More than a week after the storm hit, millions of the island’s residents are still without power—a situation that some officials estimate could take six months to rectify. So Miranda, whose parents moved from Puerto Rico to New York, is using his voice to make a difference. On October 6 he’ll release a charity single to help raise money so that the U.S. territory can begin the process of rebuilding. 

"It's a love letter to Puerto Rico," Miranda told CNN of the unnamed song. "I had the idea at 3 in the morning … The initial demo was me singing in a bathroom." We can only assume that the final version will be a bit more polished, particularly as it will feature a number of other celebrity artists (and we’re not exactly sure how many people Miranda can fit in his bathroom).

"[I] called every Puerto Rican I know," Miranda said about enlisting additional artists to assist him in the effort. "To every artist, I've said, 'Can you help out on this song?' And they said yes. Without even hearing the song, everyone's joined in.”

Though he hopes the single will help the island’s recovery efforts, Miranda says that it will take more than the generosity of individual citizens to make Puerto Rico whole again. "Only the federal government has the resources, as we have seen in every hurricane or natural disaster [that] has hit us here in the mainland," he said. “Only the federal government has the resources to really begin the rebuilding process.” 

Still, Miranda knows how the news cycle works. He wants to be sure that we keep talking about the situation in Puerto Rico and doing what we can to help. "I know there's a tendency for fatigue because we've just been through two hurricanes,” he said. “And we can't be fatigued when it comes to our fellow Americans.” 

"We are doing what Hamilton did, we're jumping up and down and screaming for support," he added. "Please don't stop telling our story."

[h/t: CNN]


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