During the past few months I have been attending training to be a RED CROSS volunteer. I bet you, dear readers, did not know that the RED CROSS has only 3% paid staff? Yup, that is correct--97% of the folks running the RED CROSS are volunteers! amazing, huh? such a huge organization run mostly by ordinary folks like you and me....and not just in one country...but worldwide. (In case you are local to the Bay Area and want to know more about volunteering at the RED CROSS, click here to go to the website.)
During World War I and again during World War II, the American Red Cross launched nationwide, volunteer-driven knitting campaigns to supply soldiers and war refugees with warm clothing. These volunteer knitters belonged to a Red Cross unit called the Production Corps that also produced bandages and sewn garments (such as pajamas) for veterans and civilian hospitals.
Military knitting patterns were designed to be compatible with soldiers' and sailors' uniforms and were required to be knitted in olive drab or navy blue. Production Corps volunteers would also knit from patterns designed for convalescing soldiers, such as the "Walking Cast Toe Sock," the "Cap for the Bandaged Head" and the "Man's Coat Sweater." You can access knitting patterns here at the American Red Cross Museum website if you want to try knitting some of these historical garments.
Now-a-days we have numerous opportunities to knit or crochet for charities---and I like to think that those of us who are doing this today are carrying on the tradition of many women knitters who knit for the causes and charities of their earlier times.
RAD BAD BEANIES "We are collecting totally rad handmade hats for urban teens! Beanies go to Big City Mountaineers, a non-profit whose mission is to provide urban teens in need of positive adult mentoring with challenging and safe wilderness experiences. Since 2006, we've donated 326 handmade beanies, 7 scarves and a pair of mittens—but there are 250 hikers every year! Will you help?"
AFGHAN FOR AFGHANS "is a humanitarian and educational people-to-people project that sends hand-knit and crocheted blankets and sweaters, vests, hats, mittens, and socks to the beleaguered people of Afghanistan. This grassroots effort is inspired by Red Cross volunteers who made afghans, socks, slippers, and other items for soldiers and refugees during World Wars I and II and other times of crisis and need..."
and so we have come full circle...we can all do our bit to help others, using whatever talents and expertise we have. I recently saw the movie BLINDSIDE (starring Sandra Bullock)---and I left the theater thinking that if every family in America that was better off did what she did in this movie (not saying what--so I won't be a spoiler, in case you want to see the film) what a difference this could make in our country. One thing I have learned in my life, and have had re-enforced over and over--is that every little positive thing we do --does count! each small positive action sends out ripples that go on and on, and much of the time we are not even aware of how the ripples move on to affect others--but they do. So let's all get busy and "knit it forward" and start some ripples moving out through the world.
Oh! and here is a pretty comprehensive list of other charities you can knit for, courtesy of INTERWEAVE KNITS .