Doing for Others, Part 2
A couple of weeks ago I talked about the pitfalls of giving handmade gifts to others. I expressed my rather whiney attitude that people often don’t appreciate the amount of time, thought, and effort that went into making the gift. I fully admit that I often have a hard time giving a handmade item freely, with no strings attached. HOWEVER...there is another side to this story! I have no problem at all giving my time and life via handmade items when I know they are going to people in need.
Most of my creativity is channeled into fiber arts such as sewing, quilting, knitting, and crocheting. All of those crafts yield items that are beautiful and comforting. Everyone finds a homemade blanket or quilt comforting, especially those with little comfort in their lives. There are many groups who specialize in making blankets and quilts to give to wounded veterans, to sick children, and to homeless families. One group who makes blankets for children in need is Project Linus. Project Linus volunteers knit, crochet, and quilt blankets for children in need. There are chapters everywhere, but the closest one to us is based in Killeen. I found out about them a while back when I needed to reduce the amount of quilt fabrics, trims, and sewing supplies I had and found they were thrilled to take any and all of it off my hands.
There are several groups that make quilts for wounded war veterans. Quilts of Valor and American Hero Quilts are just two that I have heard of recently. Like Project Linus, these groups have many ways you can help. Even if you have never sewn, they can find a role for you! I talked to a man a while back who said he couldn’t sew and didn’t want to learn, but he was good with rulers and rotary cutters, so he cuts the fabric into shapes and strips for the quilts and sends them along to be pieced together.
Recently I was in a craft store and discovered a knitting pattern for a helmet liner to be made for soldiers in cold climates (that would be Afghanistan this time of the year). It is similar to a balaclava, covering the head and neck completely except for the face. The liners are to be made of 100% wool yarn because wool is fire retardant but burns away clean, whereas synthetic yarn would melt and greatly worsen injuries—that brings the reality of these soldier’s lives into focus, doesn’t it? The pattern looks pretty easy, even for a beginning knitter, and the yarn used to make them is inexpensive. I bought two balls of yarn and will be trying the pattern soon.
A search on the internet for "charitable crafting" or "charitable sewing" will reveal many more ideas for doing for others—such as making headscarves and hats for cancer patients, making walker caddies and bedside caddies for nursing home residents, or making layette items for newborn babies. There is a way for everyone to help regardless of skill level, financial status, or amount of free time. And it’s not just limited to people—there are projects for animal shelters and animal rescue groups as well.
I plan to step up and start doing more charitable crafting. I believe that God gave me these talents and didn’t intend for me to keep them all for myself. If you are interested in doing the same, let me know. All of the organizations I mentioned have web sites, so go check them out! Or if you want to get together and work on some things locally, I would be happy to be involved. If you don’t know how, what better excuse is there to take the time to learn? SpringCreekArtsGuild@gmail.com