Crocheting for Charity, Part 2

Charitable Crochet, Keep it Local

christmas-pick-fundraiser-1

Christmas Pickle Gift Sets donated to the local High School Marching Band Holiday Craft and Bake Sale to raise funds for new uniforms.

Crocheting for charity can be extremely rewarding.  We all want to do good and it is rewarding to know you can make something that can make another person happy.   Being able to support your local community with charitable crochet is an added bonus.

My last post addressed the awesome part of crocheting for organized organizations.  The organizations I listed have not only found recipients for the items but actually have people asking for them.  They can say with certainty that the donated items (if they are made within the established guidelines) will end up in the hands of the intended recipient. But, what if your funds are limited and you just don’t have the money to pay for shipping? or what if you just want to keep it local?

I often hear of local church groups or civic organizations where they crochet hats for chemo patients or something similar.  But when asked where or how they are getting the items to the patients, the response is along the lines of “We bring them to the hospital”.  While it is wonderful to crochet for charitable efforts, I learned the hard way that you have to be selective in where you donate your charitable crochet.  Delivering items to the hospital does not mean they make it to the patients (read the story here).  So, please keep in mind, no matter where you donate your handmade items, my number one suggestion is to contact the business or organization FIRST to see if they WANT and will ACCEPT the items.  If you get a yes, push them a little further and ask, do they have more than they currently need and will the items be distributed to the patients/kids/residents/etc.   And be sure to ask if they have any guidelines and/or restrictions you need to follow.

Below are a few suggestions on how you can crochet for charity, keep it local AND be sure the donated items are getting to the intended recipients. Again, check FIRST to make sure they want/need and will distribute your handmade items.

  1. Contact national organizations and ask if they can direct you on how to donate locally.  While it may not be possible to donate directly to the recipients as they likely require all donated items to be inspected for quality control, they may be able to direct you to a local drop off location-maybe a guild chapter or yarn shop.
  2. Check with your local hospitals and oncology centers to see if you can donate hats directly to them.  If so, what guidelines to they have?  If not hats, can they suggest anything else that their patients may like.
  3. Is there a local shelter, woman’s or homeless, that might like blankets?
  4. Check to see if your community has a organization that helps homeless families find homes.  Could you provide housewarming gifts to be including when helping to set up the home.  Think blankets, potholders, throw rugs or anything to help make the new place warm and comfortable.  Check with the women’s shelter as well as they often help set up new homes for women escaping abusive situations.
  5. Check with the animal shelter to see if they would like blankets for the cages.  Or maybe you can make cat toys or fancy dog collars that they can give away with new adoptions or possibly sell to raise money for the shelter.
  6. Check with the local police to see if they would like comfort buddies to have on hand for when a child has to be removed from a home or is involved in an accident.
  7.  Maybe there is a local foster care home that would like crocheted blankets for the kids.  Remember, displaced teens need comfort blankets as well as small children and babies.
  8. Check with food banks and see if they also collect blankets or maybe they have suggestions of items you could provide that they will offer to their patrons.
  9. Is there a senior assisted living center/nursing home in your area?  Maybe the workers know of a resident who doesn’t have many visitors and could use a lap blanket or slippers.
  10. Is there a community toy-drive for families in need at the holidays?  I’ve made character hats for ours.
  11. And my favorite, because organizations always need money, donate handmade items for a craft fair fundraiser or a raffle.  Check with schools to see if any sports teams or the arts (band, chorus, etc) have upcoming fundraising opportunities you can donate items for a charity sale.  I made Christmas Pickles, see photo above, for the marching band and donated hand made items for the elementary school’s silent auction.  Many shelters and other non-profit organizations hold silent auctions as fundraisers.  They are always looking for items to include in these fundraisers.

When donating local, be sure to follow guidelines established by national organizations.  They are there for a reason.  It may be for the patient’s comfort, ease of washing or maybe the safety of the recipient.  Be sure to use appropriate yarns, wash and/or sterilize if necessary and be sure to keep pets away.  And if you don’t have the appropriate yarn but still want to make items for donation, get creative.  Baby blankets and lap blankets don’t need the same yarns required for chemo hats.  Animals don’t care if your yarn is an odd color.  Market bags can be made in inexpensive, scratchy yarns and may sell well at a craft fair fundraiser or silent auction.  And if you smoke or have pets in your home be honest and disclose this.  Some groups may not want to risk the possible allergens.  If having pets is an issue with local organizations maybe concentrate your charitable efforts on supporting an animal shelter.

Shells of Love baby blanket crochet pattern by Darleen Hopkins

Crocheting for Charity, Part 1

Charity Crochet, Established Organizations

Octopus for a Preemie-US

Donated Octos for the Octopus for a Preemie-US organization

Apparently, I have a reputation as one who crochets.  🙂  I often have friends and relatives send me links, post on my timeline or tag me with whatever the latest viral crochet pattern or project may be.  And I love this.  When my non-crocheting buddies come across something, I know it is something big and hot right now.

A few months ago, my sister-in-law sent me a link to a story about octopuses being crocheted for babies in the NICUs of hospitals.  I had heard of this before but hadn’t really looked too much into it.  This link got me interested in learning more (Thanks Chris!) and ultimately, to writing this blog post about crocheting for charity.  I love to crochet for charity but let me retell my story as to why I didn’t for a number of years.

Shortly after I began crocheting, I found an individual who was putting together a group of crocheters to make hats for children in hospitals who were going through chemo treatments.  Being a mom of two little boys, who were thankfully healthy, I jumped at this opportunity to do some good for kids and hoped to make some new crochet friends along the way.  I made 5 or 6 hats and they were submitted to the hospital along with all the others that were collected.  A month or so later, I received a thank you in the mail from the hospital’s public relations officer.  I was so excited and wanted to make more so I called the hospital representative to find out what would be the best type of hats to make.  I wanted to make what he kids liked.  This was over 10 years ago and I still remember her response verbatim-“We have so many hats, we don’t need anymore hats.  We have boxes and boxes in a closet.  Please don’t send us anymore hats.”  Now I don’t know if I caught this woman on a bad day or what, but I was shocked.  I remember saying “OK, thank you” and hanging up.  I let the woman who was heading the group know what I found out.  She believed her hats were going directly to the kids and wanted to continue.  I decided I didn’t want to make hats thinking they may just end up in a closet somewhere so I quit the group.  While I was disappointed and frustrated, I am thankful the woman at the hospital was honest with me.  If not, I may have continued my efforts making items that may have never been used as intended.  And this experience taught me how important it is to research charities prior to donating to them.  After this happened, I shared my story above with more than one organization.  I explained to them that I wanted to confirm the crocheted items I made and donated would 100% end up with the intended recipients.  Thankfully, the contacts of the organizations were honest as well and stated they were unable to confirm this.  They were groups collecting items but not checking with the recipients whether or not they were even wanted.  How many of those donated hats/blankets/whatever were ending up in boxes in closets?  Hopefully none but in all likelihood, at least some of them were.  This was such a shame to me.

Fast forward a few years and I stumbled upon Halos of Hope.  When I retold the story above to Pam, the founder, and expressed concern as to where the hats were donated,  she assured me they were being sent directly to chemo centers around the country who wanted them.  And so I became a Halos of Hope volunteer and made hats, lots and lots of hats.  Unfortunately, this wonderful organization has recently closed its doors.  Pam has decided to focus on her family and made the difficult decision to cease operations. www.halosofhope.com/

Over that last few years I have found a number of organized groups who collect crocheted items and distribute them.  There are a number of wonderful reasons to work with an established organization when crocheting for charity.  Listed below are some of the benefits as well as some potential issues-

  1. Many of these organizations are registered as 501c non-profit organizations.  This means any money donated to them are potentially tax-deductible.  Some of the organizations are not as big and therefore not registered as non-profits, however they are just as awesome in the charity work they do. Donating money is never required, just an option to help the organization in their efforts.
  2. The organization has already researched or has individuals who find recipients who want the crocheted goods.  They work with shelters/hospitals/or other groups who say, “YES! send us your crocheted items.  We will get them in the hands of people who want them”.  They will not take a box of hats to a hospital who will only place them in a closet.
  3. They often have specific requirements in what they will accept and what materials you can use.  Many times they will require you to use specific yarn or a specific pattern or they will not accept your items.  If there is such a requirement follow it for it is there for a reason!  It may be to keep the recipients safe, or for comfort, or for wash-ability or for some other reason.  If you cannot meet the established requirements, please find another organization to work with.
  4. If you do not have a local chapter you will have to mail your projects and will incur postage cost. Seek out the local chapter or collection site if available.  Most organizations will have chapters or drop off locations listed by state on their website. Maybe you will be lucky and have a location near you.  This would save postage costs and maybe you can make some new friends!

Below is a list of organizations I have come across where the donated items are sent to recipients who have asked for and want the items.

  1. Octopus for a Premie, The Octo Project.
    Collects crocheted octopuses.
    Original Danish site, https://www.spruttegruppen.dk/danish-octo-project-english/
    A list by country for Facebook groups or website, http://mynomadhome.com/the-octopus-for-a-preemie-project-a-list-of-countries-and-their-websites/
    The US group, on Facebook, is very strict on the materials used and other requirements.  This is important as the item is going to a very precious new little life and we want him or her to be safe!  The photo above is a collection of octos sent to one of the group ambassadors, Lisa.  She will inspect each one for safety, sterilize and then deliver to a hospital.  Lots and lots of love!
  2. Hats for Sailors, website,  http://hatsforsailors.com/
    Ravelry group, http://www.ravelry.com/groups/hats-for-sailors
    All hats must be hand-made of 100% washable wool (superwash).
  3. Knitted Knockers, https://www.knittedknockers.org/
    Knitted and crocheted breast prosthetics.
    Yarn requirements and specific pattern required, see website.
  4. Project Linus, http://www.projectlinus.org/
    Collects handmade blankets.
    Check your local chapter for any restrictions.

There are number of other dedicated groups out there. Whatever your passion may be there is likely a related charitable opportunity for you to share your crochet talents.  But do your homework and ask questions. And for those who prefer to keep their charity work local, please check back as my next post will provide ideas on how you can support your local community with your crochet talents.

crochet patterns for men

FO-Baby Shower Gift, Twin Octopuses

Twin OctiWOW-the last couple of months have been crazy. We have had a number of unplanned distractions during August and September.  Some good, some not so good.  But we are making them work and I finally feel like I will soon be able to get back to normal.  Normal for my family is busy but not crazy busy.  We enjoy our down town and it is during the down time that I am able to crochet.  When I found out a co-worker of mine was pregnant with twin girls, I started on a baby project for her.  That was a few months ago-she wasn’t even showing at the time :).  But I’m glad I started early because I have not been able to do much crocheting for far too many weeks.  Her baby shower was scheduled for this past Friday so I had to kick it into high gear and get her gift done.  And I finished just in the nick of time, the night before the shower.  They came out pretty cute!!!

The pattern is from the Facebook group, Octopus for a Premie-US.  Earlier this year I made a few of these for the local NICU unit.  I know one of the head nurses of the unit. She told me about the octopuses and how they help the premies.  She crochets too and makes them for her unit.  I made three for her and hope to make some more. They are too cute.  While making the three for donation, I realized they would make great baby gifts as all babies would love to grab onto to the tentacles.  And did I mention how cute they are!

With this pattern, I learned a new technique of yarn under rather than yarn over.  This technique makes a tighter sc so there is less of a gap in between stitches.  Check out this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tpYj6ECBAck It is a little odd to get used to the method but it really does work.

Happy Crocheting!

Darleen

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FO – Strawberry Potholder

I looooove novelty potholders. They are a fun way to add some whimsy to your kitchen and they make great gifts. Everyone has to eat and therefore everyone has to cook sometime. Even if it is only heating stuff up in the microwave.

strawberry potholder crochetI recently finished this adorable potholder that looks like a strawberry. When I found out a co-worker was planning on retiring I knew I wanted to make her something special. She and her husband had recently purchased a travel trailer and have plans to tour the US. I knew I wanted to make her something for the trailer and when I found out her only request for her going away party was a strawberry pie, I knew it had to be something with strawberries. I searched Ravelry and found this adorable Strawberry Potholder pattern by Doni Speigle .

strawberry potholder crochet WIPSticking with my goal to work from stash, the strawberry ended up pink rather than red.  I used Peaches & Creme Iced Strawberry (pink) and Rosemary (green).  The pattern worked up quick and was really easy.  I love how the leaves are worked into the potholder.  This requires some color changes and is the trickiest part of the pattern.  I decided to carry the strands on the wrong side. You could work over the unused yarn if you prefer. Either method will work but you do have to have experience with color changes in order to work the pattern.  I ended up using a key chain ring for the hanging ring.  I love how the stem curls.  Too cute!

Friday was Martha’s last day at work.   I wish her much happiness as she enjoys the slower pace of life as a retiree.

Potholder Crochet Patterns by Darleen Hopkins

Hot pad crochet pattern. Christmas candy, gingerbread man and snowman

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Lapghans for donation, charity stast bust challenge by Darleen Hopkins

2015 Stash Bust for Charity-November, blanket done!

Blanket for donation is done!

lapghan for donationI’m super excited to share with you the finished Inca Blocks Lapghan!  The pattern was adapted from Beth Graham’s Inca Block Wrap.  The only change I made was to add some stripes and work a few less rows.  Basically I worked the pattern until I ran out of yarn.  The finished blanket is 42″ wide X 39″ long and should be a nice and cozy lapghan.  I know it kept me cozy while I was stitching it 🙂

This blanket and the other lapghan I made earlier this year, will be donated to the local nursing home.  Every year, just before Thanksgiving, the nursing home puts up a wish tree of items needed by residents who don’t have much or don’t receive many visitors.  I always see lap blankets listed and I always wish I had time to make one.  This year I (finally) thought ahead and made two ahead of time.  The tree should be up this week.

Lapghans for donation, charity stast bust challenge by Darleen Hopkins

This blanket is included in my Stash Bust for Charity, 2015 challenge.  The blanket weighs just over 1 pound, 1.5 ounces.

Total hats made in the 2015 Stash Bust Challenge to date: 10

Total bears made in the 2015 Stash Bust Challenge to date: 6

Total blankets made in the 2015 Stash Bust Challenge to date: 2

Total weight of yarn used in the 2015 Stash Bust Challenge to date: 4 pounds, 14 ounces!

Just Treats this Halloween!

Generous Crocheter Sending Treats this Halloween

Gifted yarn.  www.cochetbydarleenhopkins.comCrocheters (and other crafters too!) are such generous people.  We love our craft and want to share it with as many others as possible.  How often have you found yourself saying to others “If you’d like to learn, I’ll show you.”  Not only do we share our skills, we also share our stuff.  Last week, one of my regular pattern testers mentioned she had some cotton yarn she couldn’t use and asked if I’d like it.  She said maybe I could make a couple of hats for Halos of Hope with it.   Because she lives rather far away I suggested she see if she might be able to find someone local so we wouldn’t have to worry about shipping costs.  Her response was, if I wanted, it was mine and she would treat on the shipping.  I said sure thinking it was maybe 3 or 4 balls of yarn.  Yesterday (Halloween),  I arrived at my house to find a large box at my door.  “What?”  I wondered, “What treat did I receive?”  I opened it to find 17 full and a couple partial balls of cotton yarn. WOW!  Yeah, I think I can make more than a couple of hats for Halos of Hope with it!  The yarn weighs over 2 pounds, 10 ounces, almost as much as the yarn I have used in 2014 (to date) to make 16 hats!

This isn’t the first time someone has shared her craft items with me.  Last year, a woman my husband knows through his job, was clearing out some knitting items.  She sent him home with 2 large bags of books, patterns and needles for me.  She said for me to take what I wanted and donate the rest.  How sweet!  I pulled out a couple of books and some lovely bamboo needles and brought the rest to the thrift store that supports a local women’s shelter.

Thank you both Heather and Maggie for your generosity.  All of these gifts will be put to good use as I continue to bust out my stash for Halos of Hope.  If you’ve received a generous gift from another crafter, I’d love to hear about it!

Buy 2 Get 1 Free on Ravelry, Crochet by Darleen Hopkins

The Spirit of Gifting-A Touching Story

The Spirit of Gifting-A Touching Story

P1010644 (600x419)Every Christmas I try to make a special handmade gift for my boys.  See photo at left for last year’s Minecraft Creepers.  Earlier today I purchased a pattern to make this year’s surprise and I’ll start working on it tonight after they go to bed.  We are fortunate enough where these handmade gifts are special treats for our kids and although they receive plenty of store-bought gifts, they always really enjoy the crocheted creation they know will arrive.  A few minutes ago I read a very touching story of a family who hit hard times and the store-bought gifts weren’t so easy to get.  Crochet helped this family bring Christmas surprises to a couple sweet children.  The sweetest gift though, was the gift from the son.  If you have a couple of minutes, please check out this story,  written by Crochey Day and posted in Crochetvolution Winter 2012.  You can find it here:  http://crochetvolution.com/winter-2013/the-year-there-was-yarn-for-Christmas  You may need a tissue, I did.

Buy 2 Get 1 Free on Ravelry