Hopefully everyone has managed to cope with the bouncing around of COVID-19 alert levels, and that you and yours are all safe and well wherever you are around the country.
Huge thanks to all of you who have continued to make and donate items during these unusual times. The feedback we are getting from charities is that the community need is more than ever.
The origins of Crafty Volunteers and where we are now
It’s been a while since we have shared the story of the origins of Crafty Volunteers, and I know that many of you are fairly new to the Crafty Volunteers family, so, as the founder and one of the current Trustees, I thought I’d recap how and why Crafty Volunteers came about.
Like many of you, I love to craft. It’s something I hadn’t done for many years, but I picked it up again a little over 6 years ago. I’m also passionate about doing what I can to help people. So crafting for charity just feels like a natural thing to do.
I had a friend who had been through breast cancer, so I reminded myself how to knit by making a bunch of knitted knockers for the Cancer Society in her honour (unfortunately at that same time we lost her to secondary cancer). I also made cardigans for the neo-natal unit at Wellington Hospital, because numerous friends had received lovely items for their wee babies.
After chatting with contacts at a couple of charities I was delivering to, I learned that they often receive items that aren’t fit for purpose, or they have too much of some items and not enough of other items, but they didn’t like to say this to the crafters as they didn’t want to lose them as volunteers. It seemed to me that there were two issues that needed to be addressed – communications, and supply and demand.
With the help of some friends we created a brand, cobbled together a facebook page, a website, and an email list, came up with a bit of a plan, registered ourselves as a charity, and we just got started.
The result was, we had lots and lots of crafters from around the country get involved. They were sending items to us here in Wellington, and then we would send it back out to charities in different parts of the country, which was costing lots of money in courier costs. At the same time we were being offered lots of yarn from people around the country. So we came up with the concept of “locals making for locals”, and Charity Yarn Stash was created within Crafty Volunteers. We sought support from people in other parts of the country to be Coordinators in their area, where they would receive and distribute donated yarns, and collected completed items to be delivered to local charities. Over the last five and a half years, many hundred of crafters have made many thousands of items that have been donated to many dozens of charities – it’s been truly amazing to see, and I thank each and every one of our volunteers for sharing the passion to help charities by making gifts from the heart.
As a Board, Lisa Tracey and I, are working on how we can continue to build this great little charity, in a way that is sustainable, impactful, and meaningful. You can expect to see some new initiatives and rebranding roll out over the next six months or so. These will be initiatives that provide systems and processes to support our coordinators in the regions; initiatives that will encourage crafters to connect with others in their local communities; initiatives that will support our ability to communicate with our charity partners and provide the items that they need; and initiatives that will help run the organisation at the national level. Watch this space…
Why is it important that we continue to grow Crafty Volunteers?
Some of you will have been in a position where you (or a family member or friend) have needed the services and support of one of our charity partners. Some of you may have received a gift made with love by a random stranger. Others of you may not have experienced this, but you do feel connected to the sense of community and purpose that crafting for charity provides.
As crafters we receive joy in the making, as well as in the giving (even if we don’t know who ends up with the item). I believe that we have a unique way of offering love and support to vulnerable people in our community. I believe that we can be connected in our combined efforts. And I believe that Crafty Volunteers has the ability to connect all of the pieces of the puzzle to ensure that charities have enough product on hand that all of the people they work with can feel uplifted, supported and loved. That’s not too much to ask for is it?
Coming soon in Wellington
I’m very excited to be able to announce the first of our new initiatives… In Central Wellington, we have been gifted the use of a venue (outside of business hours), where we are establishing a crafting workroom that will be open every Sunday (and potentially one evening a week), for crafters to bring their knitting or crochet, or to sew peggy squares into blankets.
At this venue, we are launching our textile repurposing programme, where we will be cutting textile and creating sewing project bags that will be distributed to at-home sewers for sewing up. For a variety of reasons, we won’t be having sewing machines on site – it will purely be a place to cut textile and pre-pack sewing kits.
Currently we have an estimated ¾ of a ton of textile available, that has come from commercial sources and that was previously destined for the landfill, that we will be converting into items that are needed by our charity partners. Given that I personally don’t know much about textile or sewing, I will be relying on the expertise of volunteer sewers in the area to give me your thoughts on what items can be made out of what materials. Our aim is to repurpose as much of the donated textile as possible, with a goal of being very close to zero waste.
The workroom is almost set up and I expect to be able to advise (our Wellington based crafters) of our opening day by the end of this week. In order to finish setting up the workroom, we are still seeking donations of the following items – fold up trestle type tables, fabric scissors, cutting boards and roller cutters, plastic storage bins, plus consumables like elastic and velcro – so I’d love to hear from you if you have any of these items available. We are also creating a Givealittle Page especially for this project, as we know that we will have to buy some items, especially the ongoing consumables – more on that later in the week.
It’s been a huge job to get to this, and I’m very much looking forward to welcoming sewers to our opening day (in just a few weeks time).
Until next time…
Keep up the amazing crafting work that you all do – and keep safe.
Yours – with love, compassion and hope