it seems like only baptised penguins deserve tiny sweaters
February 21, 2012 7:36 PM   Subscribe

Crocheting for secular charity?

I really love to crochet, and find its potential for complexity fascinating. However, I mostly picked up the skill to give my hands something to do while I keep my eyes on my work, so now I find myself deliberately looking for simple things to make. It turns out that mostly these are things like blankets and scarves. That's lovely but I have loads of those already! I then had the idea that probably blankets and scarves (and maybe hats?) are the sorts of things fibercrafts-for-charity are looking for. I'd love to have my fidgetyness be more than just a way for craft stores to take my money, so I went looking for charities.

Unfortunately, the vast majority of them all seem to be religiously based. I absolutely refuse to contribute to any cause that's going to preach to people. I'm not even entirely comfortable with no-longer-Christian things like, although I support their stated goals. Ideally I would like to be able to make stuff for something semi-locally (I'm in Seattle, WA) and for the charity to be far more focused on helping people in need than on any religious or political affiliation. It seems like shelters would be the go-to option here but they keep cropping up with surprise religion or surprise crazy requirements for donations.

Can you help me give my granny squares purpose?
posted by Mizu to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (22 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
Hospitals! Maternity wards and neonatal wards can use blankies and other stuff, if you feel like branching out into little hats and sockies. Just ring your local hospital.
posted by thylacinthine at 7:42 PM on February 21, 2012 [5 favorites]

You can always put them on freecycle or craigslist, then you'll know they're going to someone who needs them. Other than that, all I can think of is homeless shelters or women's shelters.
posted by patheral at 7:43 PM on February 21, 2012

Project Linus was the first thing I thought of. My Jaycee chapter has made and donated several blankets to them. It is a national organization, but you donate through the local chapter. As far as I know there's nothing religious about it.
posted by SisterHavana at 7:44 PM on February 21, 2012 [4 favorites]

Craft Hope is pretty cool and I don think they are religious, at least not the current project.
posted by dawkins_7 at 7:52 PM on February 21, 2012

Chemo cap orgs in your area?
posted by jenfullmoon at 7:52 PM on February 21, 2012

If you're on Ravelry, check out the groups that collect squares and other items for the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. Between the afghan group and the childrens' group (which also provides items for tribal elders) you should be able to find a project that works for you.
posted by des at 7:54 PM on February 21, 2012 [3 favorites]

nthing project linus! Also, homeless shelters and foster kids would probably like them
posted by elizeh at 7:56 PM on February 21, 2012

Red Scarf Project makes scarves to send in care packages for college students who have aged out of foster care. It's not specific to Seattle, but they support kids all over the country.

Here's a Ravelry group that knits and crochets for kids in Seattle Children's and Mary Bridge Hospital. It looks pretty informal: I bet you could just check the hospitals' websites for how to donate directly. I assumed "Mary Bridge" might be some sort of Christian thing, but it looks like it's named for someone named Mary Bridge and isn't religiously affiliated.
posted by craichead at 8:01 PM on February 21, 2012

They´re not taking donations again till September, and they´re asking for something very specific, but check out The Red Scarf project.
posted by ActionPopulated at 8:01 PM on February 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

Animal shelters often welcome crochet/knit blankets. The Snuggles Project is one such place. (sometimes they don't, so check first.)

Check with local hospitals/nursing homes/respite care/hospices.
posted by jlkr at 8:12 PM on February 21, 2012

Check with your local yarn store. Here is my favorite and the current charity projects they are sponsoring.
posted by goggie at 8:15 PM on February 21, 2012

If you're willing to spring for wool yarn (not acrylic), you can mail blankets, hats, socks and children's sweaters to Afghans for Afghans in San Francisco, which will send them to Afghanistan. (Full disclosure: I used to volunteer there.) They are affiliated with the American Friends Service Committee which only means, as far as I could tell, that they stash the stuff in the basement of the Quaker meeting house until they have enough for a shipment, but there didn't seem to be any religious component. (Several other nonprofits also use the basement - it's an interesting place.) They're rather particular about what they can use, so check the guidelines before you send anything.
posted by Quietgal at 8:27 PM on February 21, 2012

When our son was stillborn the hospital gave us two handknit hats and blankets to take home with us. I can't tell you how much we treasure these and I think often of the kind souls who knit them for us. Perhaps contact a local hospital, especially one that seems to have good practices when it comes to stillbirths.
posted by jay dee bee at 8:28 PM on February 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

I loved my time crocheting for Project Linus. They distribute blankets to sick or displaced children. It is a wonderful organization.

Many religious groups offer comfort and charity, preaching optional. You can always find a loud mouth that will ruin the moment but for the most part, Christians want to serve, not condemn. I know my Methodist church offers a prison outreach that would benefit from blankets. The group that does it focuses on the children of the inmates, providing toys, books and games and homemade quilts.

Nursing homes usually will accept donations. I think many of the residents would enjoy lap blankets.

Can you imagine, being at the lowest moment in your life, a time when you feel forgotten, unloved, and receiving something that was carefully and lovingly made for you by someone who doesn't even know you?
posted by myselfasme at 9:28 PM on February 21, 2012

I work at a hospital and we are constantly receiving donations from small local organizations of blankets, baby hats and the like which our families really appreciate.

From a quick google search, I found Katie's Comforters Guild makes stuff for Seattle Children's Hospital and some other local organizations who get together to knit/crochet stuff for others in need.
posted by Omniscience Fatigue at 1:56 AM on February 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

Crocheted breasts for cancer survivors?
posted by corvine at 4:52 AM on February 22, 2012

The Christmas At Sea program is affiliated with a church, but the program itself is non-faith based -- what they do is give out "care packages" to mariners and other guys on boats stuck working in the winter. They want simple things like hats, scarves, and vests, and they make them up into care packages with things like toiletries and snacks. They do have some definite guidelines for the hats and scarves (nothing too long), and colors used (nothing pink or purple or "girly") -- but they actually PREFER acryllic stuff, so it may be a good way to get rid of the acryllic stash you may have.

And there's also the option of just approaching your local hospital's NICU office independently to see if they have any kind of program where you donate them the hats, baby blankets, etc. I'm making a few baby blankets to give my local hospital; if they don't have a program, I'm sure they'll find something to do with it.

Or try your local vet's office. They often need nice cozy blankets for the cages they have for animals who have to stay there overnight. Or try a local animal shelter.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:08 AM on February 22, 2012

There's an organisation in the UK called Angelbear, which calls for knitters/crocheters to donate teddies so that children in bad situations will at least get one bear. I'm sure they will accept overseas donations.
posted by mippy at 9:01 AM on February 22, 2012

As an atheist seafarer, I have used the services of various Missions to Seafarers (Stella Maris, Flying Angel) without ever being preached at. They know most of the people they deal with don't really want the religion side of things, just the phone cards/books/internet/news/cheap beer, and they don't push it.

I don't know what you have locally, and I don't know what it would be like to be involved with the shoreside people in such an organisation, but I am sure that there are going to be seafarers in Seattle all year round who would appreciate hats (scarves not so much, they can be more of a safety issue), especially as many of them come from places with significantly warmer climates.
posted by Lebannen at 9:52 AM on February 22, 2012

AnySoldier. It's a site for deployed servicemembers to request mail, and things, for others in their units who don't get mail. Many, many request blankets and cold-weather gear. No matter what your politics are, contributing to the comfort of a lonely 18-year-old in a war zone seems like a good thing.
posted by pH Indicating Socks at 10:52 AM on February 22, 2012

There's also Soldiers' Angels - they have several different subgroups and projects. You can make blankets to donate to deployed troops, wounded soldiers and veterans, or even babies born while their fathers are deployed. Again, no religion mentioned on the website.
posted by SisterHavana at 1:18 PM on February 22, 2012

Response by poster: Well now I am overwhelmed with options! Thanks for all the suggestions. I am indeed on Ravelry (how could I not be?) so if there are any further links there I'd definitely be interested.

I never really thought about hospitals but I'm thinking they're the best fit for my own desire to express anonymous thoughtfulness towards other people via handmade things without any associated baggage. Heck, I still have my own crocheted baby blanket, somewhere in the back of my closet. Time to learn how to make tiny hats without looking at my hands!
posted by Mizu at 10:08 PM on February 22, 2012 [2 favorites]

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