A few years ago I started a crochet and knit for charity group at my church. I have always found crocheters and knitters to be so generous with their craft and was not surprised that it was a popular group! I was so excited to teach several people how to knit or crochet so they could join in! While lots of people were excited to crochet and knit for charity, we didn’t know what we could make or where donations would be taken. I learned a lot from leading that group and am so excited to share with you what I learned!
These are personal rules that I follow when it comes to charitable giving. Personal things I value that took some time to learn, so I thought it might be helpful for me to pass them along! You may disagree and that’s totally fine, but I hope you’ll consider them.
Unwanted help isn’t helpful
Could I whip up a few dozen hats and drop them off at my local church? Yes. BUT if my local church doesn’t have a ministry through which they can distribute those hats, I’m just making extra work for the church staff. Or, gasp, they may just get thrown away or stuffed in a closet somewhere and never get used. Church staff and workers of charitable organizations are often super busy and don’t have time to figure out what to do with unwanted donations. If I really want to be helpful I need to be sure my donations are going to the right place.
Listen to the needs of who you’re helping
This one kind of goes along with the last one. The people who most know what they need are the people who work every day in the area you’re giving to. Several years ago, after many years and giving canned food to the local food pantry, I learned that money was really what the local food pantry wanted. They have the skills and resources to make my money go much further than I do. So now I give them money and with my donation they feed more people!
Even if I’ve donated somewhere before, I’ve learned that it’s a good idea to check in regularly to see if their needs have changed. Needs can change a lot and while a bunch of hats may have been a huge help last year, scarves, mittens or blankets may be what’s needed this year. A quick call or email can help ensure what I make will be used and loved!
Never give less than you’d want to receive
This one may be a little challenging for some, but I feel strongly about it. I never donate anything of less quality than I’d want to receive. If I outfit my kids with super fluffy, double lined gloves this winter, that’s what I give to the local mitten tree. If I’m going to put food in a blessings box, I get brand name peanut butter because I think the other stuff is gross. Generic crackers are fine because they taste exactly the same – ha ha!
This goes for yarn craft too. When I ran the fiber group at my church, we got lots of donations of ancient yarn – seriously much of it was older than me. Some of it was amazing, but some was so scratchy it could have been used to scrub pots and pans. I’m not saying that the scratchy stuff needs to be tossed, what I’m saying is if I wouldn’t have put that yarn on my babies head, I’m not making baby hats out of it.
My one exception is color. I have strong color preferences, but my color preferences are not everyone’s color preferences so don’t limit that. Donating is actually a great place to use that wonderful yarn you bought but later realized you would never actually wear because it’s gorgeous, but just not your color.
Where to Donate
When I started the fiber group at my church we made hats for the American Heart Association Little Hats Big Hearts event. Once that event was done, we realized we wanted to keep making for charity! That was amazing, but I soon found out that finding our next project was more work than I thought it would be. After lots of brainstorming and calling around we found a couple charities that were a great match for our group.
Donating locally is really wonderful, but it takes a little more leg work on your part as you will need to contact local charities and make sure they are willing and able to accept your donations. Below is a list of ideas of places to contact.
Local homeless, battered women’s, and other shelters can be a great place to start when looking for a place to donate your handmade items. They often have really direct contact with the people they help and know exactly what they need. But, because of this their needs can change very frequently. Be sure to be in continuous and close contact with these organizations before You make your items to donate.
Cancer Treatment Center
Donating hats for cancer patients is a very popular way to use your yarn craft skills for charity. Check with local cancer treatment centers and hospitals to see if they provide hats to their patients. Also, be sure to check their recommendations for what yarn to use. They may have specific things they’re looking for.
In my experience, when donating hats for cancer patients, the yarn needs to be very soft. Also, because of patients’ weakened immune systems, it’s important that the hats are washable to avoid spreading germs. Also, I have found that many places that collect hat for cancer patients are specifically looking for unisex and men’s hats. I think since it’s often women creating the donations they often make women’s hats. But, of course, cancer affects men as well and so donations of men’s hats are greatly appreciated.
Nursing Home or Hospice Center
While I had never thought of donating to it, my fiber group found that the local hospice center was the perfect partner for us. They wanted small lap blankets for their patients. They found that their patients appreciated handmade items and felt very cared for when they were given these special items. Our fiber group found that making small blankets was a simple and enjoyable project for us. Any skill level could make the small blankets with beginners keeping them simple and more advanced crafters could work more challenging stitches. It was such a blessing to be able to show love to those at the end of their life.
Even if you are not religious, a local church can be a great place to donate handmade items. Some churches give blankets to newborn babies in their congregation, others keep hats, gloves, and scarves on hand in case someone stops by the church in need. Doing a Google search, or calling around to local churches may be a great way to find the perfect place to donate your handmade items.
You may have noticed Blessings Boxes and book boxes popping up in your local community. These are becoming more and more popular as a way to directly and anonymously connect with people in need within a specific community. While book boxes and little libraries are specifically for sharing books, blessings boxes share a wider variety of needed items.
Blessings Boxes are often a resource for people who fall in the gap between needing support and being eligible for formal support such as food pantries. Be sure to keep this in mind if you choose to place some of your handmade items in a Blessing’s Box. While your handmaid item will likely be very appreciated, you want to leave room for much needed food and toiletry items. If a Blessings Box is located directly in front of a church, school or other organization, it certainly wouldn’t hurt to get in contact with that organization to see what their needs might be.
Local Yarn Shop
When we lived in Ohio, I was surprised to find that our local yarn shop offered handmade hats to cancer patients, and did several collections throughout the year for other charities that accepted handmade items. Getting in contact with your local yarn shop may be a great way to form a connection and get involved in things that are already going on within your community!
Around the World
There are so many wonderful organizations big and small around the world that are doing great work locally and globally with yarn craft. Listed below are several websites for you to peruse. Each organization has their own needs, guidelines, and donation locations. Please keep in mind that shipping can be an added cost when donating to a non local organization.
Hat Note Hate gives blue hats to school age children to raise awareness about bullying.
Project Linus helps to provide love, a sense of security, warmth and comfort to children who are seriously ill, traumatized, or otherwise in need through the gifts of new handmade blankets and afghans.
Warm Up America provides hand knitted and crocheted blankets, clothing and accessories made by volunteers across the country and donated to people in need.
Afghans for Afghans is a humanitarian and educational people-to-people project that sends hand-knit and crocheted blankets and sweaters, vests, hats, mittens, and socks to the beleaguered people of Afghanistan.
Comfort for Critters provides blankets to animal awaiting adoption in shelters.
Knitted Knockers makes special handmade breast prosthesis for women who have undergone mastectomies or other procedures to the breast.
Mother Bear Project provides comfort and hope to children affected by HIV/AIDS in emerging nations, by giving them a gift of love in the form of a hand-knit or crocheted bear
Red Scarf Project collects handmade red scarves and distributes to them to foster kids on Valentine’s Day.
What to Donate
Hats and Other Small Accessories
Hats can be a great item to donate. There are so many great patterns to try and one person can only own so many hats! They’re fairly quick to make and can easily be made in a variety of yarns. This can be the same for mittens, scarves, and cowls! A unique way of giving away these items, would be to leave them in a public place such as a local park, or bus stop with a note saying that they are not lost, but meant to be taken by whoever finds it!
I am always amazed when people tell me they learned how to crochet by making a blanket! Some people have a love for knitting or crochet blankets! The generosity of donating a blanket is incredible! The time and supplies alone put into such a large project Is a true show of love and care!
If you are not one of those people who loves making blankets, don’t count yourself out on donating to a charity that takes blankets. Local hospice centers and nursing homes are often looking for lap blankets. Lap blankets are smaller, shorter blankets that cover just the lap. This allows people sitting in wheelchairs to stay warm without fear of the blanket getting caught in the wheels. Also, check out project Linus. They accept blocks that are then sewn into larger blankets.
If you love to knit or crochet stuffed animals, there’s a special place in the craft charity world for you! Several charities collect stuffed animals to give to children in various situations of big life change. Also, check with your local children’s hospital, they may be accepting donations of handmade octopus for their NICU.
If you are looking for a truly unique way to donate, consider making knitted knockers! Don’t let the name fool you, while this was started with knitting, it’s expanded to crocheters too! Knitted knockers provides handmade breast prosthesis for women who have undergone mastectomies or other breast procedures. You can find the free patterns and information about donating on their website, listed above!
How to Donate
Once you’ve figured out the where and the what of donating, the how is the easy part! While you can always work on your own to make things for charity, it’s often lots of fun to join together with a group. I encourage you to reach out to other friends, whether local or or people you know from social media, and set a goal for what you’d like to donate. Whether you do this in person or virtually, it’s a lot of fun and very motivating to see other people’s work and watch the donations grow as you come together for a common cause!
Watch On YouTube
I hope that this helped demystify and give you a head start on your journey to use your yarn craft to donate to charity. Save this information for later, or share it with a friend by pinning the image below!
If you’d like to learn about the Crochetmous Crew’s work with Hat Not Hate, you can read about it here!