Saturday, January 06, 2007

Let's Talk

about Charity community.

I do a lot of my crafting for charity. Do not paint me as a saint or someone noble. I like to knit. I knit every day. My kids and the Other Half are about buried in hand-knit sweaters and other woolies, as am I. I need an outlet! Even the biggest portion of the stuff I put into the fair each summer winds up being donated.

There are many definitions of charity but the one I like best is, to me, the simplest: Love. Carol (Cottage Creations) Anderson calls it "community." I like that too.

And I like all of what both of those words imply. Gifts given with "love" are the best we have. Not misshapen, or in colors no one wants, or poorly constructed, or out of style, or stained, torn, or dirty, but our best. As part of "community," we share what we would be happy to use ourselves.

I've written about "charity" in the past. A quick scan of the archives didn't get me to the post where I ranted about the offerings in a local "charity shop" (aka second hand store that supports the local hospital's "good works"). I went in looking for some odd bits of kids' clothing to fill a box I was mailing to Cheyenne River and was appalled by the condition of the stuff they had for sale. Why anyone donated it was beyond my comprehension. That it was offered for sale was even more appalling.

Ryan, The Dulaan Project commented a couple of days ago, "Another Dulaaner just brought to my attention the striped sweater you're doing for Dulaan and told me to come have a look-see. Oh. My. Gawd. That is amazing. I am so touched that you would make such a...well, work of art for the project. Absolutely stunning." I think she was talking about this little sweater that I confess I have been dying to make since I first saw the pattern.

Dulaan seemed a logical recipient. I enjoyed making it (even weaving in all those ends) and some child will be warmed in the wearing. Win-win.

Back before Christmas, I received an email from a friend on one of my e-lists. She asked how I select the charities that I craft for and I promised to expound "later." Well, "later" has arrived.

Over the years, I have knat up lots of yarn for various charity projects including my church(es) bazaar, the local emergency pantry, an auction for our local domestic violence crisis hotline (never again will I knit to order for an auction!), and other causes.

These days, my crafting time is devoted to a few "regulars" like the Ships Project (it's about the troops, not the war!), Cheyenne River Reservation, and the Dulaan Project . These three are long-term, on-going projects to gather warm woolies for folks in need of them.

I signed on to the Ships Project after another similar group I was part of dissolved into squabbles and then dissolved completely. The Older Kid was deployed. 'nuff said.

I came to Cheyenne River in a similar way. A group I was part of that was working for Pine River Reservation (same geographic area, better known community) also dissolved. I was happy to move my allegiance and continue working for the same people in need.

The Dulaan Project just touched me. (Have you seen the pictures?)

Recently, I have also contributed to Janice's Hats for Vancouver (She's a friend, what can I say?) and Farm Witch's Knit For the Kidlets Project. (Rabbitch sent me.) I also sent some squares off to Warming Grace (sorry, no link).

In the past (near and distant), I have joined Dez and Wendy in quilting/ knitting for homeless/helpless animals. Dez is in NOLA at the animal shelter, post Katrina, Wendy's project was in the northeast for cats mostly, and especially elder cats. I will confess that I have not joined in Dez's recent "knit for NOLA" project (warm washable stuff for teens served by Covenant House--definitely worthy of your support if you have the time), not because it isn't worthy (it certainly is!) but because I can stretch only so far.

And so, I guess that's the very short answer to how I pick and choose. How's my time? How's my supply of the needed supplies? Do I "know" and trust the person doing the organizing?

In all cases, I like the idea of a loose knit (bad, but intentional pun) community with a common goal. Something like the old-time quilting circles, joined not by our presence in a common room, but by our presence in a common world.

You can help!

Update: If you want to help, but are short on time, The Ships Project is in desperate need of cash donations to help pay to ship donated handmades to "the Sandbox." It's cold there. There's stuff to ship, but postage money is tight. If you can help, email me for the Paypal (cash only) link or a mailing address (checks). My email is


Nicely put. Thank you for sharing your criteria.
Twas I that told Ryan about your sweater -- it is spectacular. My own knitting for Dulaan is a bit more subdued, but only because those are the colors of yarn I have found on sale. So far.
I want you to know I'm "making" all my buddies from AC4C come over and read this entry, not just for your definition of "charity", but because YOU can dare ask folks to contribute to Ellen's postage funds!!! Thanks for doing that; we really need the postage help! :-)
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