I hope you’ve all had a lovely festive season and celebrated the holidays in whichever way you choose.
Personally, I celebrate New Year more than Christmas, as it encourages me to think about the year that has passed and give thanks for the things that have happened during the year, and to focus on what I want to achieve in the coming year.
2018 – what a year!
For Crafty Volunteers, 2018 has been a year of growth, and some new initiatives.
In January, the Womens Weekly did a two-page spread discussing how Crafty Volunteers got started, and the response from people all around the country was amazing. Even now people are still contacting us because they have seen the article at their doctor, dentist or hairdresser. If you missed it, feel free to pop HERE to read the article.
In the early part of the year we sent out much of the 143 kgs of Justice Green Yarn, that was donated to us from the Corrections team at Rimutaka Prison. Yarn was being couriered and delivered to all parts of the country, proving that people everywhere want to craft for charity, and that you are all amazingly clever at what you all do.
Between the Justice Green and the yarn donations we were receiving as a result of the Womans Weekly article, we were prompted to establish a network of Charity Yarn Stash Coordinators around NZ, so that we could encourage donations of yarn to be managed locally rather than everything coming to Wellington and being sent out again – after all, the only people winning in that scenario was the courier companies.
The Charity Yarn Stash Facebook group has really taken on a life of its own, and every day people are posting pics of the beautiful items they are making for charity – some made from the yarn stash, and other items from their own personal stash or yarn purchased as part of their personal charity donation. We have Yarn Stash Coordinators in many locations around the country, and I want to thank each and every one of them for their support and enthusiasm in helping to grow the Facebook Page and managing things in your regions, as it’s allowed me to focus on the future growth of Crafty Volunteers as an organisation.
The mantra of “locals making for locals” seems to have struck cord with all of you, and it’s very pleasing to see that so many people are donating unwanted yarns to their local coordinators, and that local crafters are making use of these donations to make much needed items for their local charities.
The Charity Yarn Stash was given a massive boost during the middle of the year, when the aunt of a friend of mine shifted in to a rest home, and Crafty Volunteers received six car loads of yarn. It was a HUGE volume!! I’m so grateful for the many people that helped distribute it around the country – it got as far north as Whangarei, and as far south as Invercargill – all for free! There were no courier costs involved, as coordinators asked friends who were travelling to pick up and deliver many, many rubbish sacks of yarn to coordinators around the country. I can’t imagine just how many hours it will have taken to convert all that yarn in to items – huge thanks to everyone who helped.
June saw the annual World Wide Knit in Public day events around the country. We were delighted that the team at Wellington Library hosted us again. It’s great to meet new friends as well as our regular crafters at these one-off events, and to be able to spread the word about crafting in general, and particularly about crafting for charity. Thanks again to the people who got involved with events in other parts of the country. We have been in touch with Astrid from WWKIP and have plans bubbling away for next years event, so please go ahead and put World Wide Knit in Public Day (Saturday the 8th of June 2019) in your diaries – we hope to have something happening near you…
During the year, we had a change of administrative support but most of you wouldn’t have realised the change. Anna H stepped aside to have her third child and spend more time with her family, and Anna P-O stepped in to assist with some of the admin work that I just don’t get to (because of this time-sapping thing called a job…). Huge thanks to both of you for your support of Crafty Volunteers, and of me personally – I couldn’t have gotten thru this year without you both!
In July, after having been nominated and selected as a finalist in the Wellington Regional Airport Community Awards, in the “Health and Wellbeing” category, in amongst some other very impressive finalists, I was simply delighted to receive the Runner Up award for Crafty Volunteers. It was a huge honour to even be nominated, and it is all thanks to the many of you that are involved. Whether you make one item a year, or several items a month, you are all contributing to something that makes New Zealand a really wonderful place. I can’t thank every one of you enough for the difference you make… the fact that you all craft beautiful items, made with love for complete strangers, is such an amazing thing… thank you all so very much!
Some of the Coordinators ran some local promotions to generate some much needed items for their local charities, and this is something I hope to see more of next year. Our friends at Kiwi Family Trust in Christchurch, under the guidance of the fabulous Barbara Aitken, are always pulling together small promotions for the charities they support. And Lisa Stirling, the Tauranga based Yarn Stash Coordinator, has had people up there get busy for particular causes several times this year. Our Hutt Valley Coordinators, the mother and daughter team of Rachel and Rosie Silby, saw a need at the Lower Hutt Special Care Babies Unity (SCBU) when they delivered some donations and noticed the cupboards looking very empty. They were hoping to boost the volume by maybe 50-80 items during the month of August – and received over 300 items and sets to give to SCBU. Now that’s the power of this amazing network that you’ve all tapped in to.
As the year started to draw to a close, we ran the “Bears and Squares” event – a nationwide promotion to get toys made and delivered to charities pre-Christmas, and squares made in to blankets over the coming months, to be delivered to charities before the cooler months roll around. Once again, the pics of all the cute toys and stunning blankets were spectacular – have a quick peek HERE at some of the pics.
Bears and Squares events were held in Wellington, Christchurch and Tauranga, and I want to extend a massive thank you to Lisa and Barbara in Tauranga and Christchurch for securing venues and hosting those events, and to the numerous people that helped set up and clean up during the day in Wellington – you know who you are, and in my mind “you rock!!”
At the Wellington event, we had guest speakers from several of our charity partners, who spoke about what their charity does, and how the crafted items they receive make a huge difference to the people that they work with. It’s very seldom that we get to hear from the end recipients of the crafted items that are made by us all, and I feel that it’s important that you know that every item that you make with love, is in fact very much treasured by its recipient.
We finished off the year with 2 quick promotions in Wellington – the first was to get 40 Christmas decorations for the Wellington Womens House – a residential house for women who would otherwise be living on the street or providing survivor sex to ensure they had a roof over their heads. I didn’t get a chance prior to Christmas to post a formal thank you to Maureen, Jodie, Rebecca, Pula, Anna and Maree, who made these beautiful items, however, I was told that every person that received them (either past or current resident of the House) were all thrilled to receive something that had been made with love especially for them – so thanks to you all.
The other quick promotion was a sewing day, held at Mt Vic Hub in Wellington on the first Saturday of December, where we had 6 people cutting or sewing hop sacks (donated from the breweries) into carry bags that Wellington Free Store will have used to give food donations to people in need over Christmas. We intend to make the first Saturday of each month (excluding January) a sewing day in Mt Vic, to use donated materials to make items for charity. Watch this space, as we introduce more sewing into Crafty Volunteers next year.
Finally, I want to acknowledge the many people who come along to the regular crafting events that we hold in Wellington, and that some of the Coordinators host in their regions. For some people that come along, these sessions are a highlight in their week or month, and many new friendships have been made. I also want to extend my thanks to the other four Trustees of Crafty Volunteers (Anne, Becky, Campbell and Mary), for your support and guidance during the 3 years since we registered as a Charitable Trust – it’s been quite a ride!!
And that’s a wrap…
Phew! No wonder I’ve been feeling exhausted lately… what with a manically busy job this year, plus a full-on non-stop adventure overseas, and all of this amazing stuff going on with Crafty Volunteers, it’s no wonder I spent several days over Christmas just resting…
Happy New Year to you all – see you on the other side.
Yours – with love, compassion and hope