Thursday, March 6, 2014

Gods Tiny Angels

One of the biggest charity donation seasons is Christmas. Since we're a bit past that now, I thought I'd highlight a few worthy charity efforts of which you may not be aware. Perhaps one of them will touch you and fill that holiday lull. My plan is to interview the coordinator of a few charities and share the insights here.

The first charity I'm going to highlight is God's Tiny Angels. You can find the web site here.

I am familiar personally with this charity and recommend it. Danette does beautiful work herself and is a very caring, compassionate person who enjoys helping these wee babes. In just the past 9 years (the records that could be immediately accessed) God's Tiny Angels has donated approximately 100,000 items to the babies and their parents.

Here is the interview. I've added a few pictures of previously donated items to give a sampling of what has been collected recently. The pictures are not related to the interview questions. I just sprinkled them in. I do not know who made what items but they are all beautiful. Note that some are store bought, some are knitted or crocheted so anyone can help.

Please introduce yourself and let us know your position or connection with
the organization. How and when did the organization begin? 

My name is Danette LeMaster and I started God's Tiny Angels in the fall of 1998 after searching the web one day and found another place taking preemie blankets. 

I sent several boxes there and then thought about my own NICU where my son spent a week when he was born. I contacted my local hospital and after a lot of red tape and an assurance that this would not be a one time thing I got the green light!! So I took care of this hospital alone for the first few months making 40 blankets a month. Then decided to start my group and what a better name than God's Tiny Angels as this is what all babies are and especially the tiny preemies.

What is the purpose of this organization?  
The purpose of my group is to let the parents who are going thru this trying time know that some one cares. I especially know as, like I said, my youngest son was in there for a week and someone crocheted a little hat for him and I still have that hat 27 years later. I have received letters from families who are so appreciative that even though we do not know them that we care...

How many others, besides yourself, are involved in leadership?
I have 70 other members in my group that make or buy items for the preemies and newborns. I am the only one that is over the group, Everything comes here and I wash, bag, tag, box up and send to the appropriate hospitals.

Do you personally deliver the collected items to the intended recipients? If you do not, who does and how do you ensure that the items get where they need to be?  
I deliver to my local hospital but the rest of the items I ship by fedex ground. I include a self addressed envelope that the hospitals send back with their wishes for certain items or just to let us know they made it to their destination.

How can fiber crafters help? What types of items do you accept? 
We accept anything from micro preemie to size 6 as we also help the wic dept with clothing for children there. We also accept pacifiers, bibs, spoons, bottles, comb/brush set, socks, booties, all items can be store bought or hand crafted.
[Sandie: You can find more photos of donations at the web site here.]

Are there any special tips or requirements for the items needed? Yarn colors, finished size of items, yarn used (wool, acrylic, sport, worsted, bulky...)  
Absolutely NO wool permitted. Not too picky on yarn colors just no drab colors. Some mothers like the traditional pastels where other mothers like the bright colors. No heavy 4 ply yarn for preemie clothing as they are already so tiny and the 4 ply is overwhelming. We do use 4 ply for preemie blankets. Preemie blankets need to be at least 20x20 unless for burial and then we can use the 15x15 in baby yarn.

It is understandable that you need to have a person's contact information in case there is a  problem and for record keeping. Do you allow participants to remain anonymous to those who receive the items? 

Is there a particular item that you yourself enjoy making more than any other? 
I would say my favorites are blankets, sweaters and dresses

Does your family participate in your charity effort? If so, how? If not, are they supportive of your work? 

My husband is very supportive of what I do as he knows this is my passion. My kids and even my dad buy me yarn sometimes so I would say I definitely have their support!

Do you have any humorous stories to tell?
Well this may not seem funny to some but to me it's not only humorous but unbelievable. I have been hometown hero here in our town twice. At the end of the interview I always asked if anyone here would like to help to give me a call and provided my telephone number. I had about 4 calls. The first 2 calls said they would love to donate some yarn so we set up a time for me to go pick it up and both callers called back and said they couldn't find the yarn! The other 2 callers wanted to know how much it paid if they helped to make things for the little ones!!! I told them it pays nothing, it is given freely from the heart.,.. So needless to say I have no help from anyone in my own town.

What do you feel makes folks hesitate to participate in a charity that is not a 501(c) charity other than tax benefits? What would you say to convince them your effort is honest and trustworthy? 
I have not really had any problems because I am not a 501 (c) charity. My website speaks for itself and I share any thank yous from hospitals or parents and some of the members also receive thank yous so they know their items are being given to the wee ones.

Who should a volunteer contact for more information on this organization?
Danette LeMaster 1533 Lincoln Dr Huntington WV 25704  Phone number 304-429-3126

Do you have any advice for anyone trying to start their own charity effort?
Just be patient as it takes time get a charity going. Be honest and up front with your group and run your group, be active, don't just have  a group and never communicate with them.....

Is there anything else you'd like people to know about your charity effort or you personally?
I have been doing this since 1998 [Sandie: 16 years!] and it is my baby. I love the feeling of knowing that we have helped make a difficult situation a little better by letting these families know we care.  The newborn hospital that we donate to the most has a lot of mothers who have nothing. So a
blanket, hat, sleeper is so appreciative as I was told at one time some mothers only had the t-shirt and diaper to take their babies home in. I have no plans of ever stopping my charity as there is always a need out there to help a baby.

I have generally found that folks have a heart for certain types of charity efforts - babies, homeless, cancer patients or whatever. If this one touches you, touch base with Danette and get started helping the babies. 

Thank you to Danette for her kindness in answering my questions and giving us a close-up view of God's Tiny angels.

I hope you enjoyed the interview! I hope to have more in the coming weeks.

Happy crocheting!

Monday, March 3, 2014

scarves and cloths

I've continued to make prayer cloths for the church in New Jersey. It really doesn't take much yarn nor time to make one and is a good use for those leftover balls. In a half hour comedy you can have a completed cloth just like the ones below. The pattern is the last one on this page at Crochet Cabana. 

Since I do a lot of my crocheting while watching TV, I choose to say a prayer for the unknown recipients before mailing off the cloths.

I'm including pictures so you can see the variety of colors that can be used to make these simple cloths. I even edged one in white as I ran out of the pink. It looks just fine. While I personally prefer them to be one color, it's hard to judge how far a ball will go.

I am also planning to make a morse code scarf. I first considered this when I read about the knitting in code article I posted the other day. 

I have been looking at morse code and trying to figure out how I want to go about it. I have looked at a few scarves and I will be doing mine differently. I just haven't decided exactly how yet. Stay tuned for more information. 

If you're looking for something to do right now, there is a need for scarves for this effort. However, the window of time is small. They want scarves in hand by April 5 and in certain colors. The effort is to provide scarves for about 35,000 runners in the 2014 Boston marathon. Update: The scarves have to be blue and yellow but a variety of colors are accepted. If you are on Ravelry there is a group (Boston Marathon scarf) with more info. 

Happy crocheting!