Guest Author - Evelyn Rainey
Between October and March of every year, time seems to shorten – not just of daylight, but of spare moments – and the need to spend such time wisely becomes very important.
According to a recent list of stress-busting activities (from Health Matters April 2009), spending time, talent, and money on charities is one of the top ten.
So, for this week’s article, I wanted to help you help yourself and help veterans by telling you about five veteran-centered charities you may not have been aware of. They are based on hand-crafting items for use by our vets.
I’m not supposed to inundate my articles with more than three links, so do an internet search on the ones you would like to support, or email me and I will provide the appropriate URL.
1. Prayer Shawls 4 Fallen Soldiers Families
Prayer Shawl groups and individuals come together under this heart-felt umbrella to provide hand-knit or crocheted shawls for widows, mothers, sisters, and daughters of soldiers who gave the ultimate for their country. I will be interviewing the founder, Cozette Haggerty in an upcoming article because this project is so worthy of the time, talent, and effort put into each shawl. As Ms. Haggerty states on her wonderful site, “PS4FS currently has 239 groups of knitters/crocheters and a few quilters; the majority are church-based, spread throughout our country. We have been in existence since October 2007, and in that short time have delivered 3,100 prayer shawls to our military families, hoping our work will give them comfort and return some joy to their lives.”
2. McLeod Prayer Shawl Ministry – Mary E. Walker Project
These dozen ladies meet every two weeks and provide talent and emotional (states member Nancy Heckert, “We laugh a lot!”)support for several projects, one of which is making afghans for the Mary E. Walker Residential Center for homeless women veterans. Like most hand-crafters, they love to begin new projects and are always looking for areas of need in their community and across the nation. The website lists many different ways you could help. They’d really love for you to join them in person, by email, or by prayer.
3. National World War II Museum – Knit Your Bit Campaign
Scarves are knitted or crocheted and then given to a veteran by way of the National WWII Museum. This charity project was started in 2006, and since then, five thousand scarves have been donated. The website gives step-by-step instructions and lists six different patterns (inspired by vintage WWII styles) that you are encouraged to use – and the patterns are free. There is also a printable flyer for your use if you plan to involve a group.
Mail completed scarf to:
The National World War II Museum
Knit Your Bit Campaign
945 Magazine Street
New Orleans, LA 70130
4. The Hand-made Afghans to Help Our Armed Forces Project
Participants are asked to knit or crochet six by nine inch rectangles which are then mixed with everyone else’s and assembled into twin-sized afghans. These afghans are sent to ten military hospitals around the world and given to wounded veterans. Begun in December of 2004, 2,881 afghans have been delivered as of Oct. 6, 2009. That’s over 150,000 rectangles. They boast over one thousand volunteers – mostly from Maryland and the DC area, but also from around the US. They request that rectangles – not completed afghans be donated. Not a knitter? Can’t Crochet? They also list several other ways to support this project.
The website does not list a snail-mail address, but gives email addresses for interested parties to contact. (on a personal note: I think this is a great project, but in my opinion, the website is visually painful. The letters are either stark white or black and the backgrounds are primary red and blue.)
5. The Blankets of Hope
This website is so well written and organized I wanted to quote directly from it: “Wounded soldiers are quickly evacuated from the battlefield, leaving behind their clothing, personal equipment, and their brothers in arms. During this time of pain and upheaval, the Blanket of Hope provides warmth and comfort for the wounded soldier. Most importantly, it shows the soldier that someone cares about him and is thinking and praying for him at that very moment. This is very powerful for a wounded hero... the knowledge that someone cares. We are very proud of this project and what it has done for those brave wounded heroes.” You can sew, no-sew, knit, or crochet these blankets. Or, if you can’t sew, cut and tie, knit, or crochet, don’t overlook this organization. The Blankets of Hope project is just one of the many sponsored by Soldiers’ Angels, including pen-pals, care-packages, even dog-treats for our brave K-9’s in the line of battle.
As of their 2007 report, Soldiers’ Angels is a non-profit organization with over 200,000 volunteers who can be found in all fifty states, Puerto Rico, Europe, and several other countries. As I said, the website is as phenomenal as the organization.
One of my favorite sayings is by the late Grace Murray Hopper, Rear Admiral, US Navy, Retired, “A ship in a harbor is safe, but that’s not what a ship is built for.” I know you all have talents. What are you using them for? I would like to encourage you to support one of these – or one of the hundreds of other – charities which support our veterans.