They say that crafting is healthy for the mind of the crafter herself — but it's also beneficial for others in need. If you'd like to put your sewing, knitting, or crocheting skills to good use, we have a few humble suggestions. Crafting, it seems, can become more than a hobby; you can transform your art into an actual charitable cause. Ahead are a number of ways to craft in the name of local or national philanthropy.
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1. Raise Awareness for Heart Disease
Cute babies in red hats — oh, my! The American Heart Foundation recently launched a "Little Hats, Big Hearts" campaign in which newborn babies don scarlet headwear to spread the word about heart disease and congenital heart defects (the most common birth defects in the United States). The AHF wants participants to use cotton or acrylic red yarn that's medium to heavy weight, and machine washable and dryable. The website urges you to contact your local American Heart Association office for deadlines and more info.
2. Provide Comfort to Preemie Babies
Those precious tiny humans need a lot of comfort and warmth to grow healthy and strong. Doctors in Denmark reportedly discovered that premature babies who held a knitted octopus toy displayed regular heartbeats, better breathing, and robust oxygen blood levels. Propose the idea of knitting snug toys for these little ones to your local hospital. The concept may just take off in your community.
3. Keep Chickens Warm
Passionate about poultry? A retirement home in Milton, MA, partnered with a local charity to knit colorful sweaters for a few chilly chickens. Consider assisting local farmers who need to keep their livestock warm when the sun sets (it may be spring, but for many of us, temperatures are still dipping come nightfall). Let's face it: These fashionable birdies are both warm and adorable.
4. Provide for the Homeless
If you've seen trees wrapped in handmade scarves, there's a reason. Community groups and churches are banding together to provide some much needed warmth to those who need it the most and leaving their handmade gifts in public areas — some even come attached with a kind, encouraging note. In Minnesota alone, a group of people attached more than 1,000 scarves in 21 different parks. If you'd like to donate more than scarves, go to WarmUpAmerica.org to find out how you can help those in need during the colder seasons.
5. Help Dogs Get Adopted
Throughout the years, animal shelters have faced a particular difficulty adopting out dark-coated canines. In fact, it's such a prevalent issue that it even has a name: "Black Dog Syndrome." To combat this prejudice and make the dogs more appealing to potential fur-ever homes, volunteers at the Scottish SPCA centers in Inverness and Caithness are knitting jumpers, sweaters, and hatwear for dogs up for adoption. So why not make something warm and snuggly for a puppy in need of a home?
6. Comfort Animals Around the World
Here's a sweet story: The elephants in residence at the WildLife SOS Elephant Conservation and Care Center located in Northern India were experiencing chilly temperatures. To better accomodate them, the local villagers were quick to create several oversized blankets. You can research different wildlife sanctuaries and conservation centers, and ask if they are in need of warm goods. Who knew that you could put your creative skills to work for a good cause and help animals across the globe?
7. Donate Your Time
Still unsure about how you'd like to give back? It takes discipline, love and time to knit, crochet or sew something for the underpriveleged. Find a program you truly care about via All Free Knitting, in which you'll find lists of local and national charities that accept sartorial crafts. What better way to spend your day than passing on the joy knitting brings to you?