Posts tagged ‘charity’
This little monkey and his buddy below are their way to find new friends at the Little Heroes Preschool Burn Camp in Livermore, California. The camp, for burn survivors age 3 to 6, helps children and their caregivers to deal with the physical and emotional challenges of burn recovery. Best of all, thanks to generous donors and volunteers, the camp provides this opportunity for free.
You might say I have monkeys on the brain.
(from “The Giving Tree” by Shel Silverstein)
The organizers of Blog Action Day couldn’t have picked a more timely subject for this year’s event. This year’s subject, poverty, is affecting more and more people every day in America and beyond. Many of us feel the strain of the bad economy but don’t experience poverty ourselves. We want to help others at times like these but are justifiably worried about our own finances and feel we have nothing to give.
I believe there is something that we can do to help others during these difficult times and at the same time relieve some of the anxiety we are feeling about our own finances. We can give.
It sounds counter-intuitive, maybe even financially irresponsible. But there are ways that every one of us can give today in a responsible way. Simply thinking “I wish I could help others, but I can’t afford to right now” has a psychological effect: it puts us in a negative and powerless state of mind. Money may be tight, but we can still be thankful for what we have and think about those who are much worse off than we are. Giving to those in need will reinforce our gratitude for the resources we do have and give us the power to do something good with them.
Organizations like Kiva put the power in your hands to invest in an entrepreneur of your choosing– someone in the developing world who is trying to lift him or herself out of poverty and needs capital to get started. Those who receive Kiva loans repay them at a very high rate, so when your loan has been repaid you can take those same funds and re-invest in another person. You don’t need a lot of money to invest– the money in your change jar is enough to make a difference.
Heifer International works to end poverty and hunger around the world by allowing donors to purchase livestock for families in need (pigs, and goats, and bees, oh my!) The animals are provided to families along with the training they need to become self-reliant. I love these two organizations because they empower both the giver and the receiver. By giving, we become part of one family’s path to health and happiness. By acting with gratitude and generosity, we are happier too.
Even if you can’t give your money, you can give your time. Look into local organizations providing assistance to the poor. If you’re not sure who to contact, try VolunteerMatch.Org. If you can’t commit to a regular schedule, get involved in a one-time event like a walkathon. You can even give while doing the things you love to do– be creative. If you love to sew or knit, make a blanket and donate it. If you draw or paint, donate your work to an auction for charity. Giving blood and becoming an organ donor won’t cost you a cent. Also consider joining the National Marrow Donor Registry. If you are a match for someone in need of a bone marrow transplant, you can actually save a life.
Now more than ever, we need to take a step back from the stress of things that we can’t control, like the uncertainty of the upcoming election and the ups and downs of the stock market. We need to remind ourselves that there are plenty of things we can do to make a positive impact, in our own lives and the lives of others.
In the spirit of giving, today I want to empower another person to give. I’m giving away a $25 gift certificate to Kiva, which will allow the winner to invest in a project of his or her choosing. To enter, just leave a comment on this post between now and 12:00pm EST on October 22nd. I’ll contact the winner by e-mail on October 23rd and send the gift certificate via e-mail.
Edited to add: …. The Random Number Generator picked….. Susan! Your Kiva gift certificate is on its way!
Blog Action Day is an annual event that calls on bloggers to post about the same issue on the same day. This year, the focus is on poverty. The goal is to raise awareness and initiate a worldwide discussion. Click the link in my sidebar or here to find out more about Blog Action Day.
I’m planning a special post for October 15th. Here’s a hint: it has to do with goats, chickens, and bees! I’ll also sponsor a giveaway here on that day, so please check back and take part. I’m looking forward to participating in the discussions that will take place on other’s blogs as well. If you have a blog, please consider joining in by posting about global poverty on October 15th. If you don’t, you can join the discussion here and all over the internet on Blog Action Day.
I’m in. Are you?
Things have been quiet on this blog for almost two weeks! I’ve been fighting off a nasty cold for the last few days, but I managed to finish a quilt for the Baby Blanket Drive over at Barakah Life. As I explained in an earlier post, Khadija at Barakah Life will be traveling to Mauritania, West Africa and hand-delivering all the handmade blankets she collects to new and expectant mothers there. Because her trip has been delayed until March, she has extended the deadline to February 29th, so there’s still time to get involved! Check out the website for details.
When I sat down to plan this quilt, I realized it’s been a long time since I last quilted. The last one I can remember doing was over seven years ago, now that I think about it. Making this one has renewed my interest, but it has also reminded me how much work is involved. For me, it’s most enjoyable to quilt when there’s no real time line involved– when I can just pick up and put down the project as I wish. I’ve decided my next quilting project will be a throw quilt for our living room, so I can finish it whenever I want to!
For this quilt, I experimented with an interesting way to piece together the front. The idea was to create a pattern more complex than a basic checkerboard pattern without any having to do any tricky sewing. I did this by piecing squares together in a basic checkerboard pattern, cutting up the pieces in various ways, rotating them, and sewing them back together. I’m not totally happy with the pattern that emerged, but I think I’m on to something. I just need to work on the method a bit more, and once I’ve figured it out I’ll post a tutorial.
In the past, I’ve always hand-tied my quilts, so I never actually quilted the front to the back before. I wanted to try it this time, because I love that bumpy, quilted look. I know myself, though, and I will never have the patience to do all that quilting by hand. So I machine-quilted for the first time! For my first time, I wanted to do something very simple, so I just quilted around the inside of each piece on the front, using the edge of my presser foot as a guide. It was quite simple to do, but it was surprisingly time-consuming. I can only imagine how long it would have taken to do by hand. It was worth the effort, though, because the finished effect is really lovely. I have read that machine-quilting should be done with a walking foot, but I didn’t have one so I just used my usual presser foot. Perhaps that’s why it took so long? Next time around, maybe I’ll buy a walking foot and see if that speeds up the process.
Without further ado, here are a couple of photos of the finished quilt:
Thanks again to Khadija at Barakah Life for organizing the drive. I’m so happy to have been involved.
I’ve been away from the blog too long! I had a lovely holiday and I’m happy to report that most of the gifts I gave this year were things that I made by hand. I ordered a few books, CDs, and DVDs from Amazon, but I actually made it through the Christmas season without setting foot in a single store (well, except for the craft store.) In the weeks before Christmas, I managed not to stress myself out by trying to do too much, and it felt great. It helped that I started sewing and crafting several weeks in advance. My husband and I received many thoughtful gifts, and spent a great day with loved ones. We are very lucky indeed.
I intended to photograph many of the gifts I made and post them after Christmas so as not to spoil the surprise. (Aprons, and softies, and pillows, oh my!) Unfortunately, that task became lost in the flurry of activity around here– hence the quietness of the blog lately. I thought of a possible remedy today, inspired by this entry on the Sew, Mama, Sew blog. If you received one of my handmade gifts this year, and you’re willing, take a snapshot of the gift being used in some way. You can be in the picture if you want to, or you can play shy, whatever you like. If you e-mail the picture to me, I’ll post it here. (By the way, I still have a few tricks up my sleeve for some faraway and not-so-faraway friends too… let’s just extend the “holiday” season until the Chinese New Year. That means I have until February 7th to send out a few more goodies!)
Lately I’ve noticed that much of the traffic this blog receives is from people using search engines to look for charity sewing projects and ending up at this post. I LOVE that people are seeking out opportunities to give their time and creative talents to help others, and I want to be more helpful in that regard. Here is a great project that I discovered today via Futuregirl’s Craft Blog :
It’s a handmade baby blanket drive being organized by Khadija at Barakah Life. If you can knit, crochet, or sew a blanket, then this is for you! Khadija will be traveling to West Africa and hand-delivering all the handmade blankets to new and expectant mothers there. If you’d like to send any wishes or prayers for the recipient, she will even create a special gift card for you and tie it to your blanket. This is just the inspiration and motivation I needed to start a baby quilt. (Check out the adorable blanket already crocheted by Futuregirl. ) What a wonderful way for a new life to begin– with a small good deed from someone on the other side of the world. Happy crafting!
I couldn’t resist adding this little backpack to the doll for our niece’s fourth birthday, also from a Wee Wonderfuls pattern. The backpack came together much easier than the jumper did. Now that I’ve done the tiny backpack, I think I’m ready for my first try at a tote or shoulder bag.
We had a nice time at our niece’s bithday party yesterday. Lots of little ones running around, but the chaos was pretty contained (it helped that it only lasted two hours!) The kids had lots of crafty activities to do, including painting T-shirts, making picture frames, and decorating their own cupcakes. The birthday girl was very happy indeed.
In other news, this week I am getting psyched up for three events I’ve been looking forward to:
One, on Wednesday, a trip with my mom to NYC to see Cyrano de Bergerac! With Kevin Kline and Jennifer Garner! We were nervous for a while that this trip wasn’t going to happen because of the stagehand strike, but the strike has been settled. Yay! I’m hoping we can also squeeze in some shopping (Kinokuniya?! Purl?! Muji?!) and a visit with a friend who lives in Manhattan.
Two, on Saturday, my husband’s band is playing at a children’s charity benefit. They play a little of everything, but mostly classic rock covers. Afterward, we’ll have a little get-together at our place.
Three, on Sunday, the Bazaar Bizarre in Boston! I’ve never been before, and I’m really looking forward to it. If you’re in the area, check out the website. There are also events coming up in LA, Cleveland, and San Francisco. (I also hope to make it to Craftland in Providence sometime before it ends on December 22nd, but I’m not sure when I’ll be able to squeeze it in!)
Lots of fun things to do and post about this week!
I love making marble magnets. I discovered these around this time last year, and I made quite a few of them as Christmas gifts. The best part about making these as gifts is that you can really personalize them by using pictures that suit the recipient. You could also draw your own pictures or use your own photos, which I haven’t tried yet.
The best tutorial I have found on making marble magnets is on the Not Martha website. There are just a few things I would add:
(1) Before you glue on the glass gems, hold them up to the light and make sure they don’t have imperfections in them. Discard (or find another use for) the ones with too many imperfections– you won’t be able to see your pictures through them.
(2) I used Aileen’s Tacky Glue for this project and it worked really well (and has held up well in the year since I made my first marble magnets.)
(3) This year I used stickers as well as digital collage sheets and they worked great! I did glue the stickers to the background to make sure that they stayed put. If you search etsy for digital collages with 3/4 inch circles, you may find some pictures that you like and save yourself some time looking through magazines for pictures to use. Once you purchase a digital file (they cost about $3 each), you own it and can print it as many times as you like (although the seller may specify that you cannot use them for mass produced goods.) I used some from Piddix’s etsy shop, that’s a good place to start looking.
Here’s a sneak peek at this year’s marble magnet creations (I still haven’t figured out how to take good pictures of these)…
On an unrelated note, I was excited to see some photos of the toys collected for the Mirabel Foundation at Meet Me at Mike’s blog today: here’s a link to the entry. I was able to spot my little guy amidst all those fabulous toys (if you click on the first photo to enlarge it, he’s in the top row, fourth from the left.) I wish I could jet to Australia to check out the display!
I have been doing a lot of sewing lately. Some of it has been to make gifts, some of it just for fun. As the holidays approach, I think a lot about how I can use my time and talent to help others. I know, we should think this way all year. But when the holidays roll around, it serves as a good reminder to me that not everyone is as fortunate as I have been. Especially, and most unfortunately, many children don’t have the love and support that I did when I was growing up. The holidays are probably a time when kids really need something to lift their spirits. I’ll write more on this topic later, but I am a big believer in the idea that little things can make a huge difference in the way people see the world, and as a result can send their lives in a totally new direction. You never know when that will happen, so you just need to keep trying to make a difference.
These thoughts had me searching the internet for a way to put my sewing hobby to a good use, and I found a great website, Meet Me at Mikes. The good folks at Meet Me at Mikes are doing a really cool thing– they started a campaign called Softies for Mirabel. They are collecting handmade stuffed animals for the Mirabel Foundation, a group that helps children affected by their parents’ substance abuse. Meet Me at Mikes is a shop located in Richmond, Victoria, Australia… so keep in mind that if you make something for them, you’ll need to send it to Australia. They will be displaying all the donations in their shop window for a while (hopefully inspiring more donations!) and then in early December they will donate them to the Mirabel Foundation to be distributed to the children. Check out their Flickr page and see some of the wonderful work that’s already been done.
Last week, I shipped off this cutie:
It’s exciting for me to think about where he might end up. He’ll be half a world away for the holidays this year– and hopefully making some little girl or boy happy.
I’m still on the lookout for more charity sewing projects, so please leave me a comment or a link if you know of any good ones. Thanks for reading!