Want to make a difference, but don’t have much to give? If you’re at all crafty, these charities are looking for donations of handmade items! Whether you make baby blankets or greeting cards, socks or ruffled pillowcases, many charities across the nation (and the globe) rely on handicrafts to keep their doors open.
- Afghans for Afghans http://www.afghansforafghans.org/
This charity works in the same fashion as the Red Cross, collecting and distributing handmade blankets, scarves, hats, mittens, and socks to the people of Afghanistan beleagured by war, political strife, and poverty. Washable wool items are best as they are the warmest and most durable for harsh winters. The organization runs short campaigns looking for specific items, so check the website before you donate.
- Afghans for Angels http://www.angelfire.com/ia2/AforApage2/
Afghans for Angels is an Iowa-based charity that creates blankets for parents who have lost a child due to miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant death. The blankets are made to be keepsakes parents can wrap the child in while saying goodbye. There are several chapters and similar charities around the US and blankets in many different sizes are needed.
- Afghans for Pine Ridge http://www.ravelry.com/groups/afghan-squares-for-pine-ridge-reservation
Afghans for Pine Ridge is a Ravelry group dedicating to making afghans of various sizes for the Elders of Pine Ridge Reservation. Pine Ridge is a Lakota Souix settlement in South Dakota and considered the poorest place in the US, with an unemployment rate of 90%. 6” and 12” afghan squares are knitted or crocheted by volunteers then assembled and distributed by a Lakota woman in Baton Rouge. For guidelines and shipping information, check the group descriptions and documents.
- Binky Patrol http://www.binkypatrol.org/
Binky Patrol provides comfort blankets to children newborn through age 18 who are born HIV+ or drug addicted, who have terminal illnesses, or who are experiencing trauma of any kind. Chapters across the US make and distribute the Binkies locally and also organize Bink-a-Thons. To donate, you can join a local chapter or start your own.
Blessing Bags don’t have an official organization, but there are many resources online to learn about these. These bags are made for the homeless and underprivileged and filled with basic necessities like warm hats and socks, water bottles, restaurant gift cards, and bus tokens. These items are put together in backpacks or freezer bags and distributed as needed to the homeless and impoverished.
- Bundles of Joy www.ravelry.com/groups/bundles-of-joy
Bundles of Joy is another Ravelry group that focuses on creating items for the residents of Pine Ridge Reservation. Whereas Afghans for Pine Ridge assist the Elders, BoJ runs a continuous drive for newborn items donated directly to the local hospital’s OB Ward. Hats, booties, mittens, blankets, nursing pillows, and other newborn essentials are handmade by the group’s members in an effort to provide each baby (30-40 each month) with a basic layette. There are also various drives for the preschoolers and kindergarten students and Elders caring for young children.
- Caitlin’s Smiles http://www.caitlins-smiles.org/
Caitlin’s Smiles is a national nonprofit that provides arts and crafts kits and materials to children suffering from terminal illness. Named for a seven-year-old who lost her battle with brain cancer, this organization strives to help suffering kids by inspiring their creativity. Volunteers can assemble Bags of Smiles, Arts & Crafts Kits, Care Kits, and homemade cards to donate after registering as a volunteer on the website.
- Contagious Hope Ministries http://www.contagioushope.com/services.html
Contagious Hope Ministries is a California-based church group that provides clothing, handmade baby items, blankets, and other basics to Kenyans during their mission trips. They accept completed items such as baby hats and booties, mittens, socks, and more. Blanket squares that can be assembled by church members are also welcome.
- Days for Girls http://www.daysforgirls.org/
Days for Girls is a charity that provides sanitary pads and hygiene kits for girls and women without access to disposable products and where menstruation is cultural taboo. The hygiene kits are designed to be lightweight, easy to clean, and comfortable, keeping girls in school and young women working where they might otherwise be cloistered and exploited. Donations can be made through a local chapter or directly to DfG. For patterns and donation information, see the website.
- Dress a Girl Around the World www.dressagirlaroundtheworld.com/
Dress a Girl Around the World provides dresses and other necessities to poor communities worldwide. Besides giving them something of value to show they are loved, these dresses are often the only clothing young girls have. The organization’s label is placed on every dress as well, helping deter predators who may take advantage of a young girl without an organizational affiliation. To date, over a quarter million dresses have been distributed in Africa, South America, Europe, Asia, and many other impoverished communities. For guidelines, patterns, and donation instructions, see the website.
- Enchanted Makeovers www.enchantedmakeovers.org/
Enchanted Makeovers is a Michigan-based nonprofit dedicated to transforming long-term shelters and crisis centers for women into beautiful, homey spaces that encourage healing. Projects include the makeovers as well as the construction of Sacred Sewing Rooms and ongoing mentoring projects. They accept donations of pillowcases, quilts, baby blankets, dolls, aprons, and kids’ capes. You can also contact the organizers for other items on their current wishlist.
- Little Dresses for Africa http://www.littledressesforafrica.org/blog/
Little Dresses for Africa provides pillowcase dresses – a simple pattern that can be made with minimal fabric and by even novice seamstresses – to little girls of Africa in schools, churches, and orphanages. They have also sent dresses to poor communities in the US and Haiti, Guatemala, and many other countries. Dresses can be made for infants up through age 11+ and there are free patterns available on the website. LDfA also accepts donations of reusable sanitary pads and shorts for boys.
- Newborns in Need, Inc. www.newbornsinneed.org/
NIN provides “Immediate Need Kits” that contain the basics for babies during their first weeks. Volunteers create warm blankets and clothing for each kit, which also contains essentials such as diapers, wipes, thermometers, and pacifiers. Local chapters accept handmade items as well as sewing and knitting/crochet supplies and the organization is currently running a “Sleepers in September” event to collect safe, warm clothing for the upcoming winter.
- Operation Write Home http://operationwritehome.org/
OWH provides blank, handmade cards to soldiers deployed overseas so they can write home to their families on something beautiful and high-quality. To send as many as possible in each box, cards should be 4.25×5.5”and include envelopes. Absolutely NO GLITTER is allowed, as it can be picked up on nightvision cameras and is a safety hazard for soldiers in the field. The need for themed holiday cards is limited, but year-round cards with blank insides are always welcome. Check the website for specific guidelines, current needs, and shipping information.
- Pink Slipper Project https://www.facebook.com/ThePinkSlipperProject
The Pink Slipper Project is a group of nationwide volunteers that knit and crochet socks, slippers, and other small necessities for women and children living in shelters and crisis centers. Challenges are sent out every so often for volunteers to pledge the handmade items and have them mailed by a certain date. Shelters accept the items for women and children currently staying there. Patterns, size charts, and more information can be found on the website.
- Project 40 http://www.ravelry.com/groups/project-40
Project 40 is a Ravelry group that creates lap blankets for residents of nursing homes and assisted living centers. 40” blanket strips of any width are crocheted or knitted and then assembled and donated by the project’s organizer. The strips can be any pattern and all types of yarn are accepted.
- Project Linus http://www.projectlinus.org/
Project Linus provides blankets to children of all ages who are suffering from long-term illnesses, who have been traumatized, or are in great need. They accept only handmade blankets of high quality, from completely smoke-free environments, in any size from swaddlers (36×36”) to twin size. Blankets are accepted and distributed by local chapters (there are chapters in all 50 states and the District of Columbia) and they also accept donations of fabric, yarn, and other blanket-making materials.
- Recovery Buddies http://recoverybuddies.blogspot.com/
Recovery Buddies are handmade huggable pillows given to teens and adults recovering from addictions, mental illness, surgery, and other issues. Each Buddy is handmade from yarn (knit, crochet, woven, or sewn from old sweaters) and given a face, a name, and a “story.” Buddies are mailed out by direct request. Although the organization’s site does not have patterns, many well-traveled DIY websites do.
- Snuggles Project http://www.snugglesproject.org/
“Snuggles” are small blankets and sleeping pads made for animal shelters. These blankets help calm frightened or anxious animals and are shown to lead to more adoptions. Snuggle-makers donate through local shelters that accept the handmade items and can report their donations to the organization with a simple form. Free patterns for knitters, crocheters, and other crafters are available on the website along with a worldwide directory of shelters in need of Snuggles.
- Stitches from the Heart http://www.stitchesfromtheheart.org/
SftH is a nationwide nonprofit that assists newborns of all backgrounds go home with warmth and care. With a presence on Ravelry, Facebook, and the web, StfH recently celebrated the donation of its 1,000,000th blanket and is hoping to reach 2,000,000 by 2018. Local chapters create items and ship them to distribution centers in San Diego and New York state. To donate, contact your local chapter or consider starting one.
- Tender Loving Care Ministries, Inc. tlcministries.info/about/about.html
TLC Ministries is a Christian nonprofit that serves families in the Appalachian region. Headquartered in Potomac, MD, volunteers craft new clothing, socks, and other neccessities for infants, children, and adults who live in poverty. Volunteers have also created toys, ponchos, and pajama sets and helped provide shoes, coats, and personal care kits. There are four annual drives for items – Easter, Back to School, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. For patterns and donation information, check the website.
- Ugly Quilts http://www.uglyquilts.org/
Ugy Quilts is a project managed by My Brother’s Keeper Quilt Group, a nonprofit in Pennsylvania. They provide handmade, rollable quilts that resemble sleeping bags to the homeless and encourage donations made from repurposed fabrics. Instructions for making “ugly quilts” can be found on their webpage, along with a list of items they need donated (sewing supplies, healthcare kits, mending kits, etc.).
- Warm Up America, Inc. http://www.warmupamerica.org/warmup.html
Warm Up America is a national nonprofit that distributes handmade blankets and warm clothing to infants, children, and adults around the country. They accept donations of completed afghans or sections/squares as well as scarves, hats, mittens, and socks. The items are distributed from a center in North Carolina to Red Cross centers, women’s shelters, disaster relief organizations, and other places that request them. Knitting and crochet patterns are available on the website along with information on the organization’s sister charity, Warm Up Canada.