What’s artistic, unique, handmade and practical as winter nears? Hats, scarves, mittens and the like, of course. So you really can’t go wrong — unless you make a really hideous hat — with crocheting these needed winter items; especially when you donate them to charity. Soldiers’ Angels makes sure “No Veteran Goes Unloved!” The VA Crochet & Craft Team makes and sends lapghans (blankets), hats, scarves, bibs, catheter bag covers, ditty bags, wheelchair/walker totes and slipper socks to Veterans Administration medical facilities around the United States.
There are many worthy organizations to donate to — use caution when donating online, and certainly keep be sure to protect your social security number and banking information with some kind of identity protection service. When you are all secure and ready to start giving, remember that outside of a plate of home-baked cookies, there might be few gifts that are more heartwarming to a veteran than a handmade item. One recipient said on the website, “I’m sitting here all toasty and warm because someone cared enough to make these booties.” The website provides patterns for the needed items and a running total of “Heroes Waiting for Adoption.”
Other Organizations Warming Hearts
Another organization involved in getting crocheted items to military personnel is Operation Gratitude, which every year sends 100,000 care packages filled with a variety of items, including snacks and personal letters of appreciation, to U.S. service members deployed in hostile areas, their children left behind and to wounded warriors, veterans and first responders.
Warm Up America (WUA) distributes afghans to needy people around the country. Volunteers crochet and knit a 7-inch by 9-inch rectangle (or more) each, with sections joined by individuals or groups in a community, to make a full afghan, which are then donated locally or sent to the organization. The unique aspect of this effort is that WUA afghans resemble patchwork quilts of many colors and textures, not unlike the varied faces of the people making and receiving them. Recipients include women’s shelters, nursing homes, children’s hospitals and homeless shelters.
Halos of Hope was founded by Pamela Haschke, a survivor of inflammatory breast cancer who suffered through chemotherapy while being treated for the disease. She decided to seek donations of handmade “chemo caps” to help others who are enduring what she went through.
When you think of crocheting, a picture of an old woman in a rocking chair may come to mind, but not for everyone. High school students in Spokane, Washington decided to use their talents to begin an organization called Krochet Kids to give women in Uganda and Peru by giving them the tools they needed to crochet winter hats.
Other Worthy Causes
Calvin’s Hats distributes tiny hats to families who lose little ones way too soon. Founder Annie Willems began the organization when a close friend lost a child after 22 weeks of gestation because of a disease that caused Calvin’s brain to stop developing. The hat the hospital gave to the mother for the baby was too large, so that inspired Willems to begin Calvin’s Hats so every child could have a clothing item that fit properly, and to let the families know they are remembered.
Project Linus provides love, a sense of security, warmth and comfort to children who are seriously ill, traumatized or otherwise in need. Volunteers, called “blanketeers,” achieve this through the gifts of new, handmade blankets and afghans. The website provides links for information on how to make items such as a “no-hole blanket” that’s a favorite with hospital staff.
Not only are crocheted items special and one-of-a-kind, they make it less likely for donors to avoid becoming victims of charity fraud. Look up a charity’s website to verify its authenticity. But if nothing else, the heartwarming stories of those fortunate enough to receive a handmade afghan or cap could inspire people to pick up their hooks and crochet away.
Bob Berkowitz: Bob is a part-time accountant and freelance writer who spends time with his girlfriend and looking after his elderly mother. He is content to live the simple life, even though it’s hardly ever simple.