Do you have passion for crafting and helping others? Then you've come to the right place! We've compiled several organizations that need your crafting expertise to help those in need. Use your creative talents to craft up cards, knit hats, crochet blankets or sew up stuffed animals and dresses. Do it by yourself or get your friends and family involved. Make easy-knit teddy bears for sick kids seeking a friend, make a turban to help those going through chemotherapy, create handmade cards to support cancer patients, crochet a blanket to keep the homesless warm, paint a pair of shoes for a child fighting cancer or sew up a superhero cape for kids in shelters to teach them about courage, bravery, faith and hope. Turn your hobby into something that can help and empower others. Here are 9 organizations that can use your help!
Kathy Braidich, founder of the Turban Project, witnessed her coworker suffering from hair loss due to breast cancer treatment and decided to take action. It was then that Kathy made her first turban for her coworker to help fight through the emotional stress of hair loss. This sparked a bigger movement: Kathy brought this idea to her fellow Ladies of the Knights of Columbus and they quickly started creating more turbans for cancer patients in Licking County, Ohio. Thus the Turban Project was born. Since June 2012, they have turned out more than 5,500 turbans and courage caps.
These handmade turbans and courage caps are distributed to 14 local oncology and radiation treatment centers to the men, women and children going through hair loss, totally free of charge thanks to volunteers. The Turban Project currently has around 65 volunteers and approximately 20 of them sew the headwear. Volunteers cut and sew the turbans, embellish bands with fun designs and package them individually with a signed card. That’s where you come in! Visit www.turbanproject.com for free instructions and patterns on how to make these turbans!
According to the American Heart Association, approximately 40,000 infants are born in the United States with some sort of congenital heart defect. It’s easy to overlook this as just another statistic, but eight tiny, fragile lives out of every 1,000 infants suffer from some form of heart defect. A congenital heart defect is the most common cause of infant death resulting from birth defects. This doesn’t just affect babies; there are currently approximately 1.7 million adults in the U.S. living with a heart defect. So what can we do?
To battle the No. 1 leading cause for deaths in the U.S., Anne Schullo started Little Hats, Big Hearts in February 2014 in Chicago to help raise awareness in memory of her friend, Courtney, who passed away from a cardiac arrhythmia at 25. As the Community Engagement Coordinator, Anne helped collect more than 300 red hats in the first year and now the program has expanded to 39 states! Visit www.heart.org/littlehatsbighearts to find the closest organization to get involved.
A little girl in Africa suffering from AIDS asked that she be buried with her bear that had been donated by the Mother Bear Project organization. The bear had been her only friend. She found comfort in the idea that she wasn’t alone. Loredana Delucchi, a Senior Systems Analyst at the NYU School of Medicine, was so touched by the little girl’s story that she knit 250 bears. She donated her first gift for the hospitalized children at the Shoe4Africa hospital in Kenya — East Africa’s first public children’s hospital.
Loredana hoped that the bears would deliver comfort to the children about to undergo medical treatments. As she continued knitting more bears, her co-workers, family members and friends started to voluntarily join the effort. That’s how Knitting Without Borders came to be. So far, thanks to Loredana’s efforts, more than 3,800 bears have been distributed worldwide to sick children seeking a friend. Bears are being donated to Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Central America, Europe, North America, South America and wherever they’re needed. It’s Loredana’s hope that these small and easy-to-make toys will touch the hearts of many and provide joy for all. Visit www.knittingwithoutborders.jigsy.com for free knitting and crocheting patterns!
Carolyn Blashek founded Operation Gratitude in her living room in 2003, sending out care packages to U.S. troops in combat zones. Since then, they have created several additional care package programs in response to the developing needs within the military. So far, Operation Gratitude has sent out more than 1,275,000 care packages to wounded warriors, veterans, new recruits, and deployed members of all military branches: Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, and to units from all states and territories! Not only do they send much needed supplies to the troops, but the handmade items, letters, and postcards really help raise morale and remind the soldiers that we care.
On top of helping veterans, soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines deployed overseas, Operation Gratitude also has a Battalion Buddy Program where they have sent out more than 92,000 cuddly stuffed animals to the children of deployed service members. They also create disaster relief first responder care kits, disaster relief supplies, and care packages for care givers and wounded warriors. For a list of helpful tips and guidelines on sending a handmade scarf, visit www.opgrat.wordpress.com/scarves-for-troops.
Many women and children living in shelters are there to escape domestic violence, child abuse, sex trafficking, family addiction, post traumatic stress disorder, or other extremely challenging situations. A recent report by the National Center of Family Homelessness found that one in 45 children in the United States are homeless. This means 1.6 million children are facing a life without a stable environment. Children experiencing homelessness have high rates of chronic health problems and face stressful and traumatic experiences that affect their development and ability to learn.
To battle these awful statistics, Terry Grahl founded Enchanted Makeovers (EM) in 2007 with hopes of empowering and educating women and children in shelters. Through various projects and programs, women and children are introduced to a new way of life. Among EM’s many ongoing projects is Capes for Kids with the slogan “Don’t wait for a superhero. Be one!” The goal is to teach children in shelters about courage, bravery, faith, hope, and happiness. Terry noticed a lack of programs in shelters that nurture the child from within and decided to give them something that would empower them – with a little help from their imagination. Capes for Kids helps kids feel like they have the strength and ability to create whatever they want for their lives. It’s not about having superman come save the day – it’s all about calling on their own strength from within! You can find cape patterns at www.enchantedmakeovers.org
Dress A Girl Around the World distributes handmade dresses to impoverished girls in the United States and in 80 countries internationally. If you’re sewing your children’s church or party outfit, take some time to create a dress or two to send to this organization.
Dress A Girl Around the World is a part of Hope 4 Women International, a 501c-3 nondenominational Christian organization founded in 2006. The mission of the Dress A Girl Around the World Campaign is simple yet so impactful. Create beautiful dresses so every girl, no matter ethnicity or socioeconomic status, knows that she is beautiful – inside and out! Many recipients only own one dress- the one that is created for her – and this simple gift helps cultivate dignity and respect in themselves and their peers. For great step-by-step info on creating a Dress a Girl Around the World Dress, visit their web site at www.dressagirlaroundtheworld.com/patterns.
Peach’s Neet Feet (PNF) is a 501c3 organization based in New Mexico that is dedicated to helping all children living with a disability or life-threatening illness. PNF provides hope, support, and kindness to children battling illnesses that range from spina bifida to cancer to muscular dystrophy. PNF collects and distributes unique, one-of-a-kind hand-painted canvas shoes by artists across the country that are personalized to the child’s likes, interests, or favorite characters or heroes. This simple handmade gift offers hope and brings positivity to each child’s courageous fight. To date, over 3,500 pairs of shoes have been distributed to help thousands of kids and their families. The organization also distributes toys and art supplies to kids who are facing long-term hospital stays. These care packages provide a much-needed creative outlet to children battling strenuous and painful treatments.
To bring community awareness and help in fundraising efforts, PNF also hosts Peach Parties which help kids, families, PNF staff, and other volunteers connect and gather in celebration of art and togetherness. The parties last for two-three hours and offer up to 10 fun stations for arts, crafts, and fellowship. Peach Parties are also a time for shoe recipients to fill out applications, have their feet measured, and talk about their ideal future personalized kicks. If you’re interested in hosting a PNF Peach Party at your local hospital or community center, visit www.peachsneetfeet.com/peach-parties.
A special national charity called Girls Love Mail is fighting breast cancer with paper, good penmanship, and heartfelt words of thoughtfulness and encouragement. The goal of Girls Love Mail (GLM) is to give the gift of a handwritten letter to women going through breast cancer treatment. People from all over the country and far corners of the world are writing letters of encouragement and sending them to Girls Love Mail which is based in Folsom, California. The letters are then distributed to 142 cancer centers such as Cancer Treatment Centers of America, St. Jude, UC Davis Cancer Center, and more. or a list of helpful tips and guidelines on what to write and how to address your letter, visit www.girlslovemail.com.
Warm Up America! (WUA) was the brainchild of Evie Rosen, who for more than 30 years owned a yarn shop in Wausau, Wisconsin. She started knitting afghans for shelters in 1990. Frustrated by the great need for blankets and her inability to knit large quantities fast enough, she came up with the idea of dividing up the process. She approached customers and friends and asked them to stitch 7”x9” sections and then asked others to sew them together. Everyone pitched in by knitting and crocheting sections and then joining them together to complete a colorful patchwork afghan. After a story about Evie’s efforts appeared in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the program just took off.
Why afghans, you ask? Evie always said, “There are basic needs that we all share and keeping warm is one of them — whether it’s for someone in a shelter in Wisconsin, a mother and child in battered women’s home in Texas, or an older adult in an assisted living center in Georgia.” Evie also realized early on that a gift of something handmade brings special warmth and love to someone in need. Visit www.warmupamerica.org for more information on how you can help!