I have a special-needs friend, Anita, who comes to our knitting group at the library. She is a lovely person, and is always gifting me with her crocheted projects -- last week it was a penguin snowman. Last Thursday, as we were sitting working, she told us that she had always wanted an American Girl doll (Kirsten, to be exact, as her niece's name is Kirsten) as she would love to crochet doll clothes for her.
I knew I had to find one for her, but also knew it would be tough to find a Kirsten, as she has been retired for a few years. (Why yes, I do stay current on AG news. Yes, I still get the AG catalog and yes, I do enjoy each and every page. So what? And yes, I love the Kirsten doll myself. I always wished I was Swedish instead of German; I had read a book about Scandinavian children when I was about 10, and longed to wear a lit-candle wreath on my head at Christmas. Didn't everyone?)
I looked on eBay and Craigslist, but the Kirsten dolls were very expensive, as I expected. So, this morning I put out a feeler on facebook, and holy cow, the response was swift and amazing! All sorts of great ideas, and offers of $ so we could buy Anita a doll -- even from people I'm not friends with. I got several private messages, from college friends and girls I've know since they were little -- one sweet girl is sending her Kirsten tomorrow. Crazy awesome.
I think this might be the start of something. Something like a group of women who collect beautiful used dolls, spruce them up, dress them up and pass them on to girls and women who could never afford to own a beautiful doll. What do you think?
While this idea is brewing, I thought I would share a few of my favorite charity crafting sites with you. I've compiled a huge list that I keep in my knitting files, but these are the ones I have participated in, and really love. If you want to sew, knit or crochet for someone else, my first advice would be to do a little research and make sure your items are needed -- space is limited at many hospitals, relief centers and schools, especially after a tragedy, and too many lovingly created things get thrown in the trash because they can't be stored or distributed. It would probably be better to just send cash.
Here are some sites where we know our crafty efforts will be appreciated:
The Painted Turtle. This is a Paul Newman-founded camp in California for children with chronic illnesses. They like to make sure every child has a pillow, and you can sew a turtle "skin" pillow case with the pattern then have posted. They also like twin-size quilts and knit or crocheted afghans.
Operation Care Package. They need small drawstring bags (and provide a pattern), travel pillows, Christmas stockings and other crafty items for members of the military. All kinds of good information at their site.
1 Million Pillowcase Challenge. One of my favorites. All People Quilt has been running this challenge for a few years now, and I love it (it's where I learned the burrito-style pillowcase!) The patterns are easy to follow, and you know a brightly-colored pillowcase will cheer up a sick child. You can turn your pillowcases in at local fabric shops for distribution where they are needed. (I think pillowcases make great gifts for anyone who isn't feeling well -- I like to use a soft minky-type fabric for one side, colorful cotton for the other.)
Afghans for Afghans. This long-running charity collects hand-crafted items for relocated women and children in Afghanistan as a symbol of peace and friendship. They started with distributing afghans, and currently they are accepting hand knit (or crocheted, I would guess) socks, mittens and hats through September 30, to be shipped out for the coming winter. The color green is especially valued in the Muslim culture.
The Red Scarf Project. You can knit or crochet a red scarf for a child who has been in the foster care program and is now attending college. This is an awesome project, full of love for kids. They have several nice patterns listed, but any red scarf is appreciated.
And one of my absolute favorites, Craft Hope. They have sponsored 22 projects for people in need around the world. There isn't a current project, but go to their site and read about all they great things they have done. And keep checking in for the Project 23!