Knitting & Crocheting for Charity: Helping One Skein at a Time

Hands Crocheting Wool Over Table

If you're a knitter or crocheter looking for your next project, you might consider creating an item to send to a favorite charity. Charities all over the world not only accept, but are reliant upon, items made by dedicated knitters and crocheters. There's a good chance you can find a cause that's close to your heart, and put your needles or hook to work supporting it.

Items to Knit or Crochet for Charity

Blankets, scarves, mittens, hats -- all of these and more are on several charities' wish lists. The items below are a bit more general, and some of them are great projects for new knitters or crocheters to make.

Afghans and Lapghans

A full-size afghan or a smaller blanket to add just a bit of warmth are both often-requested items for many charities. Whether you prefer to knit blankets or crochet an afghan, you can easily find a home for your creations.

Alice's Embrace provides knitted and crocheted lap blankets or prayer shawls for patients with Alzheimer's.

Hats, Scarves, and Mittens

Organizations that serve the homeless community are often very much in need of items like hats, scarves, gloves, and mittens, especially in areas where winters are cold and snowy.

You may want to check with the organization you'd like to donate to. Sometimes they'll have more of a need for adult or children's sizes, depending on what they have in stock.

Care to Knit ensures that people in hospitals or homeless shelters are provided with a bit of love and warmth in the form of crocheted items, including hats, scarves, and blankets.

Socks and Slippers

If you're good at knitting socks or crocheting slippers, there are many charities that will happily accept them. From organizations that assist the homeless, to women's and children's shelters, to hospitals, there is a need for the comfort that a well-made pair of socks or slippers can provide.

The Pink Slipper Project gives slippers to women living in homeless or women's shelters, with the goal of not only giving them something to help keep warm but also to remind them that there are people out there who care about them.

Granny Squares/Blanket Squares

What if you don't have the time to knit or crochet an entire blanket? Certain charities will happily accept granny squares or blanket squares, which they'll then make into larger items. It's important to pay attention to each organization's needs, since they'll usually request a particular size so that all the squares they get can be easily stitched together.

Warm Up America is a nonprofit that provides handmade knitted or crocheted blankets to people in need. They accept squares from volunteer knitters or crocheters, and then combine the squares to make blankets.

knitted socks and slippers

Knitting for Charities for Cancer Patients

If you'd like to offer your skills and assistance to a charity that serves cancer patients, there are plenty of ways to help.

Hats for Cancer Patients

Hats are often a welcome item for cancer charities, both because of the fact that cancer patients often feel cold, especially while undergoing treatments, and because they can be useful once patients start losing their hair. Both knitted hats and crocheted hats are welcome. Check with the organization you'd like to work with to see if they need particular sizes.

  • Crochet for Cancer accepts donations of handmade hats and other items for patients undergoing treatment.
  • Knots of Love accepts donations of handmade hats and blankets for men, women, and children undergoing chemotherapy.

"Knitted Knockers" for Breast Cancer Patients

Despite its humorous name, these knitted items are extremely useful for those patients who have had mastectomies due to breast cancer. Essentially, they're knitted prosthetic breasts, soft enough for a patient to wear while their scars are healing from their surgery. Plus, traditional prosthetics can be quite expensive.

Knitted Knockers provides soft knitted prosthetics to patients who request them, absolutely free of charge. Anyone interested in working with this charity can find out how to do so on their website, which also has free patterns and instructions for making them.

Crocheted Hairstyles for Children With Cancer

Kids and teens undergoing cancer treatment deserve a bit of extra comfort and fun, and a way to deal with the hair loss that often results from those treatments. With that in mind, why not turn a hat (which will keep them warm) into a fun, fantasy-inspired crocheted hairstyle? This also resolves the issue that children's scalps are often too sensitive for traditional wigs, so a crocheted one provides a softer, more comfortable head covering.

The Magic Yarn Project has provided these fun, soft, fairy tale inspired wigs to almost 28,000 children over the past 6 years, and they continue to be on the lookout for more wig makers. It's a process to be approved to make wigs for them, including sending in sample projects so they can see if your skills match up with their needs. You can learn about the process on their website.

Knitting for Children's Charities

Organizations that work with children and teens often have a need for handmade items. While many of them need the basics, such as hats, mittens, scarves, and socks, some focus on particular items.

Blankets

Children in shelters, foster care, or who are undergoing treatments for various illnesses often need a little more comfort and security. A warm, knitted or crocheted blanket can provide that, and there are several organizations that accept donated blankets created by knitters and crocheters.

  • Project Linus provides blankets to children who are traumatized, seriously ill, or otherwise in need. They accept crocheted, knitted, quilted, or sewn blankets.
  • Binky Patrol accepts blankets of all types from crafters and provides them to children in need. You can either find a local chapter, or look on their website for blanket needs and where to send them.
  • Project Night Night provides bags for homeless children and teens, each of which includes a handmade blanket, an age-appropriate book, and a stuffed toy.

Stuffed Toys

A stuffed toy can provide comfort, security, and a sense of caring for a child or teen who is going through health issues or other trauma.

  • The Mother Bear Project accepts handmade teddy bears for children with HIV/AIDS in developing countries.
  • The Cuddles Box, created by Bev's Country Cottage, provides instructions for creating knit or crochet stuffed bears and dolls. These can either be sent to Bev's Country Cottage to hand out to children in her area, or to set up your own local Cuddles Box.
Two Knitted stuffed teddy bears

Knitting for Charities for Babies and Preemies

Babies born with illnesses, or prematurely, endure long hospital stays and can always use a little extra security and warmth. From tiny hats for preemies to specialized stuffed animals, the items below are either in demand by charities or are items that have been found to be useful.

Newborn/Preemie Hats

Most hospitals provide generic little knit hats for newborns and preemies. But an ultra-soft, thoughtfully-made hat is a wonderful item for a baby to have during their hospital stay. Contact your local hospital or search local charities that work with maternity wards and NICUs to find out what they need and how to donate.

Newborn Booties

Like hats, newborn booties are a thoughtful way to provide some warmth and love to a little one that may very well be struggling to survive. As with hats for newborns, the simplest idea is to either contact local hospitals to find out about charities they work with, or search for charities in your area that you can work with.

Baby Blankets

Little knitted or crocheted blankets for newborns and preemies are quick, simple projects to make, and ones that will be very much appreciated by hospital staff and families alike.

Newborn and Baby Charities

Several charities focus on providing donations to infants and preemies. Sometimes these are general interest charities, and others may be focused on a particular issue or ailment. Also, be sure to check with your local hospital for volunteer crafter opportunities.

  • Knit Big for Little Lungs works with volunteers who create knitted or crocheted hats, booties, and blankets for babies in the NICU. They also do fundraising to draw attention and raise money for RSV research, which is the most common ailment for babies in NICUs.
  • Octopus for a Preemie is a charity that started in the UK, but accepts donations from all over the world, and encourages others to start similar programs in their areas. Knit a cozy, adorable octopus to help preemies adjust to life outside the womb.

Knitting for Charities for Animals

If you're an animal lover as well as a knitter or crocheter, there are plenty of unique opportunities for putting your skills to use to improve the lives of animals. Whether your passion is helping shelter pets get adopted, or helping wildlife thrive, there is a charity out there that needs you.

Blankets

Local shelters often ask for blankets, so checking with your nearest shelters or humane societies is a good place to start. In addition, there are nationwide charities that depend on the skill of volunteers to provide blankets for shelter animals.

  • The Snuggles Project accepts donations of knitted, crocheted, or sewn blankets in a variety of sizes (from small ones for cats and puppies, to very large ones). Check their website for details about sizes and how to donate.
  • Comfort for Critters also accepts donations of handmade blankets for shelter animals.

Knitted Bird Nests

If you're a nature lover and want to assist wildlife rehabilitators as they care for abandoned, found, or sick baby animals (primarily birds and small mammals) consider putting your knitting needles or crochet hook to work making small nests.

Wildlife Rescue Nests accepts knitted or crocheted nests in a variety of sizes, and then sends them free of charge to wildlife rehabilitators as they work to get baby animals healthy enough to return to the wild. To date, volunteers have made over 36,000 nests that have been used to care for baby wild animals.

Pouches for Orphaned Kangaroos

This idea is unique, but could be right up your alley if you're a talented knitter or crocheter, and a fan of marsupials.

Wildlife Rescue (Australia) provides patterns and accepts donations for faux pouches for baby kangaroos, wombats, koalas, and possums. They can be knitted in a variety of sizes, and then sent to their headquarters in New South Wales.

Best Practices for Donating Knitted or Crocheted Items

There are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to donating knitted or crocheted items. Most of these tips apply to donating items to be used by people; any animal-specific requirements will be addressed by the individual charities.

  • Think of the person who will receive the item. If you're knitting socks or hats or scarves, keep in mind that often homeless people are also in the process of trying to obtain housing and employment, and so might appreciate more neutral tones of items so they can look more pulled together and professional. Children, of course, will likely prefer bright, cheerful colors.
  • Put as much care into an item you're donating to charity as you would for a dear friend or family member. Often, the people on the receiving end of these donations are going through so much, and that little extra touch that shows how thoughtfully something was made can brighten their days.
  • Use good quality yarn. Wool blends are wonderful for hats, scarves, mittens, socks, and slippers. Soft cotton is wonderful for baby items.
  • You do not need to be an expert knitter or crocheter. Find a good beginner pattern, take your time, and donate your items when you feel ready. Your work will be appreciated!
  • Make sure items are clean, and (especially if they are going to be used in cancer wards or NICUs) that they're free of pet hair or other allergens that can irritate some patients.

Give Back With Your Favorite Hobby

Knitting and crocheting are rewarding, relaxing hobbies. Knowing that the items you're making will go to someone who needs and appreciates them just makes it that much more rewarding.

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Knitting & Crocheting for Charity: Helping One Skein at a Time