Knitting Rays of Hope
Knitting Rays of Hope

9 More Charities Looking for Yarn Crafters

Knitting Rays of Hope
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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Ben Leuner, AMC
You Can Cook (Food) With Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul in the Original Breaking Bad RV
Ben Leuner, AMC
Ben Leuner, AMC

A new contest is giving Breaking Bad fans the chance to cook a meal with Walter White and Jesse Pinkman. A new charity fundraising campaign is sending one lucky fan and a friend out to Los Angeles to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Breaking Bad’s premiere with the stars themselves—Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul, and that beat-up RV.

“That’s right, the real Walter White and Jesse Pinkman will join you in The Krystal Ship to whip up some delicious food, take tons of pictures, and bond over the most addicting show ever made,” the contest’s page on the charity fundraising site Omaze trumpets.

All you have to do to throw your (porkpie) hat in the ring is break out your wallet and donate to a good cause. Every dollar you donate to the contest through Omaze is basically a raffle ticket. And the more you donate, the better your odds are of winning. Each dollar donated equals 10 entries, so if you donate $10, you have 100 chances, if you donate $25, 250 chances, etc. At higher donation levels, you’ll also get guaranteed swag, including T-shirts, signed set photos by Cranston and Paul, props and scripts from the show, and more.

Technically, you can enter without donating, but don’t be a jerk—it’s for the kids. The proceeds from the contest will go to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and the Kind Campaign, an anti-bullying charity.

The contest winner will be announced around September 12, and the big event will take place on September 15.

Donate to win here. The contest ends at 11:59 p.m. PT on August 30.

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Kars4Kids, YouTube
The Cruel (But Effective) Agony of the Kars4Kids Jingle
Kars4Kids, YouTube
Kars4Kids, YouTube

It can happen suddenly and without warning. Driving in your vehicle, a commercial break comes on. In addition to the standard pleas to use a specific laundry detergent or contemplate debt consolidation, the voice of a preadolescent, out-of-tune child materializes. Your grip on the steering wheel gets tighter. The child begins to warble:

1-877-Kars-4-Kids, K-A-R-S Kars for Kids, 1-EIGHT-SEVEN-SEVEN-Kars-4-Kids, Donate Your Car Today …

An adult breaks in to repeat the lyrics. The two begin to sing in unison:

1-877-Kars-4-Kids, K-A-R-S Kaaaaars for Kiiiids…Donate Your Car Today!

In roughly a minute, it’s over. You go on with your day. But the song’s repetitive melody sticks to your brain like sap. You hear it when preparing dinner. While brushing your teeth. As you put your head on the pillow. When it's finally worked its way out of your brain and you've started to forget, it reappears.

The song is engineered to be obnoxious. And its producers wouldn't have it any other way.

 
 

Since 1999, an untold number of Americans have found themselves reduced to mewling heaps of distress following exposure to the Kars4Kids jingle. The 501(c) nonprofit organization based in Lakewood, New Jersey, spends up to $17 million annually making sure this earwig of a commercial is played across the country. While the purpose is not expressly to annoy you, the fact that the song is irritating is what makes it memorable. And successful. And more than a little controversial.

Kars4Kids began in 1995 as a way to capitalize on the trend of automotive owners donating their unwanted cars in exchange for a tax deduction. Owners who donate their vehicles are able to get an IRS write-off—though typically for only a percentage of the current value—if they declare it a charitable donation. Kars4Kids arranges for the vehicle to be towed away and sold at auction, with proceeds going to afterschool and summer programs for students.

According to the organization, business was slow until one of their volunteers had an idea to craft a commercial song. The melody was purchased from a singer and songwriter named Country Yossi, and Kars4Kids enlisted a child to perform it at an in-house recording session. It debuted in the New York market in 1999, and spread like the plague to the West Coast by 2005 and nationally by 2007.

Aside from Yossi, however, the company has repeatedly declined to identify anyone else involved with creating the song. The reason? Death threats. The tune has apparently enraged people to the point of contemplating murder. Speaking to SanFranciscoGate.com in 2016, music cognition expert Elizabeth Hellmuth Margulis said that the combination of repetitive structure and the overly simplistic message was engineered to grate the listener's nerves.

“This simple melodic line is also probably responsible for some of the annoyance,” she said. “These kinds of three and four note lines are often the ones specially crafted for kids learning how to play instruments ... It probably conjures up associations of painful practice sessions.”

 
 

The line between irritating and memorable is often blurry. Kars4Kids has repeatedly pointed to the song as being effective in driving telephone traffic to their number. When they debuted a television commercial in 2014—complete with lip-syncing kids who subsequently got bullied for their participation in the spot—donations went up by 50 percent. To date, the company has received 450,000 cars. In 2017, contributions totaled $39 million.

Surprisingly, people have reserved animosity for something other than the commercial. In 2017, Minnesota's attorney general chastised Kars4Kids for not making it clear to donors that many of the children who benefit from the fundraising are located in the northeast: Kids in Minnesota received just $12,000 of the $3 million raised in that state. Other times, the organization has been criticized for leaving information out of their solicitations. In 2009, both Pennsylvania and Oregon fined the charity for failing to disclose a religious affiliation. (Most of the funds raised go toward Orthodox Jewish groups.) Oregon’s Department of Justice said that Kars4Kids needed to disclose such information in its ads.

Those speed bumps aside, the jingle shows no signs of leaving the airwaves any time soon. Rather than run from the negative response, Kars4Kids marinates in it, sharing hateful diatribes from others on social media.

“Newer people join the [media] team and when they are first exposed to the level of hatred on Twitter they'll be like, 'Are you sure you think this is a good idea that we should keep on playing this?,'" Wendy Kirwan, Kars4Kids’s director of public relations, told Billboard in 2016. “And we've looked at that time and again, and we've come to the conclusion that it's definitely worth sticking with.”

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