When the world's troubles seem too big , I am always amazed at what a little comfort can do to help my kids. A little handmade warmth, a small gift that says I love you, some tangible way to convey that they are cared for seems to make almost any situation better. I think it is universal in fact and my kids are often moved to "make something" for friends who are struggling.
When our home school group was in the middle of the the doll making project my friend Joanna wrote something so beautiful on her blog.
I am not kidding myself that this will change very much in their hard lives. I know, though, that if my little ones ever found themselves without me there to care for them, I would be overcome with gratitude if another Mama, somewhere in the world, shared a little bit of her hand made love with my children.
I think kids get this - that a doll or a blanket won't change the world on it's own but that it can make someone feel loved and cared for. And putting more love and caring out into the world does make a real difference - both to the giver and the recipient. Whenever we have made things to give away, my kids develop a deep connection with the place and the people their gifts are intended to help. The idea that they have sent dolls to Haiti, which were made by their own hands and hugged with their own arms before shipping them has come up in so many ways over the past few months.
There are lots of ways that kids can become involved in making tangible gifts or items to show others they care.
Some opportunities to get your kids involved:
Dolly Donations - Sarah launched an amazing program to send dolls to Haitian children after the devastating earthquake. Working with organizations and orphanages she is sending love to so many. Kids can help choose fabrics, decorate faces, sew and stuff and make cards to send along to with their dolls.
Conn Kerr - provides cheerful pillowcases for pediatric cancer patients. Kids can help choose fabric, sew, tie-dye or decorate purchased pillow cases non-toxic dyes. There are coordinators for local hospitals all over North America so your crafts help local kids.
Knit a Square provides blankets for aids orphans in Africa. If you don't knit or crochet there are plenty of online tutorials to help and this would be a great beginner project. There is also a felt option using shrunken wool sweaters (and there are directions on this website). A group of our friends are going to get together to decorate some wool squares with needle felting so the kids can add some designs and pictures to their squares. We are hoping to send at least 40 squares to make a blanket.
Craft Hope is a great place to become involved in craftivism and their new book is fabulous.
There are also likely local opportunities. Knitting and quilting guilds often have connections for all sorts of charitable organizations who would love to receive handmade goodness. Often there are hat and mitt drives for local schools or shelters and it is super simple to make fun fleece hats. Seniors homes will often love to receive some bright kids art to decorate a seasonal table. Or you could arrange a kid craft sale and donate some of the proceeds to a favourite charity.
One of our favourite children's books is about the power of giving handmade gifts. The Quiltmaker's Gift is incredibly beautiful and sparks great conversations with kids of all ages.