Sunday, August 5, 2012


You know I love to help others and contribute to any worthy charity effort that I can verify. For some reason today I was remembering why I am now so careful about making sure a charity is "real" and that the items I donate actually get to the people I think they're going to. To some degree it is not possible to be absolutely sure, but insofaras I can, I verify.

The reason for this is once burned, twice shy.

Many years ago, I met a young lady who was having a very difficult time and I wanted to get an afghan together for her. A group I was in at the time wanted to contribute squares towards this afghan. It was a one time thing, not ongoing. I just wanted to help this one person. I can't even remember her situation now, but she was going through a very rough time.

All seemed to be going well and then I started seeing messages talking about sending squares for this ghan to a person who was not me. I inquired and as it turned out another person on the list had been contacting people saying she was  accepting squares for this afghan, giving out her address and claiming to be associated with me. Many squares had already been sent to this person.

I never received the squares that had been sent in error, but I did eventually get  the correct information to those who wanted to contribute and the afghan was completed and sent to the person in need. List management took care of the rest of the matter.

That experience taught me a lesson I won't soon forget. Before I send my hard work to anyone I check them and/or their organization out. This is just good sense. I might google them, Facebook them, check out the organization they claim to be representing, ask around to see if anyone else is familiar with them.

I am not impressed by a request that is filled with misspelled words or makes no sense. That's not to say that an error will necessarily throw me off your worthy charity effort - I make mistakes too - but there are so many needs. If I'm in doubt, I will move on to a different, but still worthy, need. After all this time, I have a few places that I consistently donate to, but I am always open to grass-root efforts that I can verify. I am just one person and I have only so much time to crochet.

If I'm contributing through a well known organization - like Warm Up America or the Red Scarf Project or Special Olympics - then you know it's okay. When it's an individual, it's harder. Many are sincerely trying to help people, but just don't have the means to become a 501(c)(3) charity. I did not become "official" when I coordinated Preemie Afghans for Charity and Squares For Survivors. It just cost too much. However, many people contributed to those projects (for which I am very grateful) and I guaranteed that every item sent was used for the purpose intended.

But how did THEY know I was legit? Well, many of them knew me from other places, like lists we were both on, or my web site or blog or even knew me in person. I'm sure some checked me out and some just had a big heart and assumed I was okay. Which I am, btw. :-) I try to be very open about what I'm doing, why, and show the results when possible.

My purpose is not to scare you off donating when your heart says to do so. It's just to make you aware that not everyone out there is as kindhearted and honest as you are. Know what you're doing.

As I said, there are so very many people in need, even in this great country. It's sad, but true. If you want to help others, there is no shortage of places you can do so.

For example, Sandy Holladay coordinates the Bridge and Beyond Project to help the homeless. I recently sent her a scarf and some squares. (Note that she collects squares only at certain times of year so check before sending squares. Scarves, socks and other things are always needed.) The picture was taken by Sandy. I forgot to take one before I sent it off. I'm getting really bad about that.

Another worthy effort is Love Afghans for Pine Ridge Reservation, run by Pam Wingard. Pam has been helping the Native Americans at Pine Ridge for over 20 years, providing warm afghans. Her yahoogroup has been in existence since 2003. There is also a Ravelry group. This is always an important job, but recently there was a catastrophe in the small community of Oglala, where a tornado hit, destroying 30 homes, the church and hall, and damaging 50 homes. Pam is working her fingers to the bone trying to get some afghans to these folks before winter sets in.

Most of the squares below were sent to Pam. She accepts any size squares, but of course the larger the better as it takes fewer to assemble into a nice size afghan.

Another charity effort that assists the Native Americans is Crafting for a Cause. CFAC is a 501(c)(3) organization. Your contributions are tax deductible. They accept a great variety of items and many of them are sent directly by you to the recipients. Here is a scarf I recently sent.

A local effort that I like to donate to is Knit Your Bit (tax deductible donations). The National WWII Museum in New Orleans spearheads this effort to provide scarves to veterans all across the country. Even though the name says "knit", they accept crocheted items also - like the scarf below. They provide several patterns, but accept any pattern. Keep in mind the majority of recipients are male. 

I have a friend who collects things and delivers them in her local area so if I have something I think she can use, I will send to her. I also belong to a few groups on yahoogroups and Facebook.

The above are just a few of the many legitimate efforts out there that can use your beautiful donations. There are many more. Just do your homework.

Happy crocheting!


  1. I'm so glad that you did this post. I think you've warned people about a really important issue in donating (and of course it's true for donating anything to charity, not just handmade items) and you've helped people understand the ways to be cautious!

  2. Thanks for sharing this. I've worked in non-profits for my entire career, and it really rubs me the wrong way when people are scammed and then decide that "all non-profits are bad." Each donor is responsible for their due diligence to check out where they are sending their hard earned money (or yarn!).

  3. yes, Thanks Sandie❤ Kind hearted people do not tend to think that some one is scammming to get `gifts' out of an organization to wrap & gift in their name to others... or that Golly Wouldn't it be great to give all my kids a hand made scarf or afghan? Then they proceed to `order' thru non-profit groups. :o(
    The not funny thing was we `caught' some of those 'orders' as we like to playfully call them because many of us Serve in other Crochet Non-Profit groups & saw the `Request' at several sites. Sad that we in these non-profits use our own supplies-postage time and all that is involved administratively to be scammed. We hold ourselves up to ❤Faith❤that every request is genuine. Giving from our hearts❤
    thanks for publishing your article