December is a month of giving… if you turn on the radio or TV at any given hour and you are likely to hear non-stop fund drives and requests for food, toys, and funds. We all want to share what we have… This year, the calls for donations have really hit home as so many in our country have been affected by storms, fires, and earthquakes. It seems the need is never ending. How can we help?
ABOVE: Charity quilts from QuiltCon. Photo by Lauren Hunt.
It has been heartbreaking to watch Alaskans try to rebound from an earthquake, forest fires ravage the golden hills of California, hear about hurricanes and floods pounding down on the coast, and to know that countless people have been left homeless by these tragedies. It makes me want to reach out in any way that I can. I know that the first call from charities is for funds, and I’ve donated already. But as a quilter, I also know that charity quilts can give comfort and warmth to a stranger in need. These people have lost everything; the least I can do is to share my abilities and make a quilt.
What Can We Do?
“When tragedy strikes and people are suffering, quilters want to help. Many quilters use their gifts and talents to help those in need by either donating quilts or raising money. Even small acts of kindness can have a big impact.” — Abby Glassenberg
Yes, quilters are a generous bunch, and there are many things you can do to make a difference. Here’s a list of five ways you can help those in need. And yes, making a quilt is one of them!
Five Ways Quilters Can Help
1. Support Disaster Relief
I’m not going to name charities, but we all know that some are better than others at putting your monetary donations to work. Find a charity that fits your criteria, and consider making a donation to support disaster relief. Every dollar helps.
2. Act Locally
National disasters get lots of attention, but you may also find needs within your own community. Work with your local homeless shelters, food banks, and charitable organizations to find ways that you can donate or volunteer.
3. Plan Ahead
Get a list of items charities need before you hit the stores. Homeless shelters may always need men’s socks (this is a really great sock option if you are looking for one – affiliate link), but they could have an overabundance of sleeping bags on hand. And consider taking your teenagers along to pitch in. Everyone in the family can help shop for the food bank or distribute dinner at a soup kitchen.
4. Think Outside the Box
When Hurricane Harvey hit Southern Texas in 2017, modern quilter Nicole Daksiewicz organized an auction of handmade quilts and items to raise funds for the storm victims. “I think it ended up being a two-week full-time job, and I didn’t expect it to be like this at all,” she said. Nicole’s auction raised a whopping $26,900, and it took place entirely on social media. (You can read Abby Glassenberg’s article about it in the 2018 QuiltCon magazine.)
5. Make a Quilt
Consider making a charity quilt to share when times get tough. I try to have one on hand at all times, ready to ship to an individual or organization that is collecting for a cause. Simple quilts that are large enough to cover an adult (lap or twin) work best. My local quilt group introduced me to the disappearing nine-patch technique several years ago, and I’ve made several versions of this quilt for charitable donations.
There’s a Tanzanian proverb that says, “Little by little, a little becomes a lot.” I hope everyone finds a generous way to say “I care” to those in need. This is the time of year we all consider giving just a little bit more of our time, talent, and possessions to others. If we all give a little, pretty soon it will be a lot.
Updated December 13, 2018.