A few weeks ago, I wrote about crocheting for large scale charities such as Octopus for a Preemie, Project Linus, and Warm Up America! which you can read here. However, sending your crochet goods across the country or even the world isn’t always feasible. Sometimes, you may just want to stay close to home and address needs that you see in your own community. So today, I would like to explore just a few of the options that may be available in your local community.
Cancer Treatment Centers
Unfortunately, cancer is one of the most prevalent life threatening diseases in the United States. According to the National Cancer Institute, almost 40% of men and women will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lives (reference). In all likelihood, you know or have known someone with cancer. Personally, I have had 3 neighbors who have been diagnosed with cancer. Plus, the treatments for cancer can be horrible and have long lasting side effects. But there are ways that those of us who crochet can help our neighbors. “Chemo Caps” are a very easy project to crochet. You can make your own design, or the number of free patterns on Pinterest is astounding. People undergoing chemotherapy not only can lose their hair, but they can get cold much easier than before treatment, and crocheted hats can help. Another item that would be beneficial for cancer patients is a “Port Pillow.” Essentially, many cancer patients have a device implanted under their skin that allows easy access to their circulatory system for blood draws, transfusions, medical treatments etcetera; however, the device is located below the collarbone where the chest strap of a seatbelt rests. The pillow straps onto the seatbelt, making it less uncomfortable for the patient. You can check out my Crochet for a Cause Pinterest board for the basic construction of a port pillow, made by a cancer survivor (I’m currently waiting for permission for a direct link). The pattern calls for fabric, but you could easily crochet rectangles instead. Just make sure that you use a smaller hook and single crochets as you will be putting stuffing between the two panels.
Youth Centers and Shelters
For any number of reasons, children are often placed into the foster care system or group homes. These children often do not have anything of their own. Not everyone is able to be a foster parent, or volunteer at shelters. However, there are a large number of goods that can be crocheted and donated to youth shelters. If you love making amigurumi, you can make stuffed animals. If you love making clothing, you could donate sweaters or dresses. If you love afghans and need a reason for making the latest pattern you stumbled across, make it for a kid at a local shelter. There are children in the system from birth to age 18, and they could all stand to have some kindness and love showered on them.
Most metropolitan areas have homeless shelters where individuals can seek shelter for the night, bathing facilities, and meals. On cold nights, shelters are often filled to capacity and have to turn people away. Something crocheters can do to help the homeless is to donate hats, scarves, mittens, gloves, headbands, blankets, socks, and any other warm items. Even if people have to be turned away, they can still be provided with items to help them stay warm.
Perhaps animals are more your forte? There are many things that can be crocheted for animals as well. Blankets can be added to cages and kennels to make animals more comfortable. There are many toys that can be made for animals too, you just have to be careful what materials you use. Personally, I have wanted to make Eilen Tein’s Cat Nest for my cats for quite a while. These would probably be more acceptable to a cat shelter that allows the cats to roam rather than at a traditional shelter. If dogs are your favorite animals, there are many free dog sweater patterns available on Pinterest. Some shelters may accept toy animals as well, however you should probably avoid stuffing as it can cause serious problems if dogs ingest it.
It doesn’t matter where you live, what you prefer to crochet, or whom you prefer to help; need is universal. Often, all it takes is a phone call or an email to find out who will accept your donation. The worst that can happen is the organization will tell you “No.” If that happens, try again. I chose to donate to a local shelter called Home of the Innocents. It is an organization that helps “poor families, distressed mothers, their children and medically fragile children.” They provide resources for needy families, community programs, a home for traumatized children who are unable to be in foster care, a home for “medically complicated” children, and much more in Louisville, KY. I chose this organization mostly because it was local, and I have a soft spot for kids. When I was an elementary music teacher, I saw just how vulnerable children in bad situations can be; but, I also saw how much more resilient children are than adults. It became even more important to me after having my own child. Since I am no longer teaching, I feel the need to help where I can. If I can support an organization that does so much for kids by crocheting blankets, clothes, or toys, I am happy to.