25 May 2013

The Gift of Giving

Each year, or thereabouts, I select a non~profit group in the area whose work I appreciate to donate hand~knit/crocheted &/or loomed items to.  Sometimes I already have a list of local groups, and other times, I construct a new list.  It depends.

I like to first look at groups in my town, county, and the surrounding Golden Triangle.  Then I widen the net to also consider efforts of those organizations within the state or the SouthEast region as a whole.  Usually I don't get further than that, cuz there are lots of groups right here at home, in my own backyard so to speak; that going national or international doesn't make the list often.

I also consider what sort of work that group does, who they serve, and what sort of record they have.  Do the recipients actually receive the benefits, or does most of the money go to the administration?  Is the organization mostly made of volunteers or is it staffed with mostly paid/salaried folks?  Is this group funded in large part by some major foundation? Is there a need for the items I make?

In the past, I've made fifty hats/scarves/hoods/hooded~scarves for the Palmer Home for Children {an orphanage in Columbus, MS}; over a hundred hats for the Children's Hospital in Little Rock, AR; about thirty lapghans for French Camp Academy's Autumn Auction; scarves, hats, toys, washcloths for both the Safe Haven {Meridian, MS} and Sally Kate Winters {West Point, MS}, which are shelters for women and children; and other projects for groups in the area.

I always contact the organization before~hand, telling them what I do, asking if they would be interested in some items, and if so, what are their preferences/requirements/restrictions.  If possible, I ask if they can give me some demographics for the population they serve.  I give examples of what I make, and why I am asking for the information that I do.

For instance, some organizations work with populations like children who need soft caps because they now have newly naked, tender heads due to the chemo and radiation treatments.  Their siblings and parents often need warmer hats too, as most of the families' resources are going toward care for their sick child.  However, there usually are many groups that are assisting these organizations.

So I tend to want to help those that are not quite as widely or publicly known to be in need, so might not be receiving the assistance that they need.  Group homes for the elderly, mentally ill, recovery addicts, or developmentally disabled are usually in need of items and don't receive adequate assistance.  Their clients are often financially stressed, have health issues and expenses, and can use something that is personal, functional, and pleasing.  Often these folks don't have families who provide them with boundless love and support, sometimes those families don't have the means to provide them with much at all.

I know what it is like to be on both ends of this spectrum.  I've received services over the years.  I've worked as a provider of services.  And when I can, I like to be able to give back, help someone else out, let them know that folks do care and can help and will help.  Sometimes, receiving a personal item can remind the person that they are just that, a person, an individual worth caring about.  A scarf, a washcloth, a lapghan, a hat are all small things, yet they can mean so very much.

So this year, I looked at various non~profit groups within Mississippi.  I read about Baddour, a residential facility for adults with developmental disabilities.  Baddour is a community, of sorts, which provides the clients there with various activities and environments that address residents' abilities, needs, and wants.  So some folks garden, work, create items to sell in the facility's store, learn skills that will help them live more independently, cook, sew, watch movies, play sports, etc.  It's about empowerment and enrichment.  It's about encouraging and assisting these adults who are like you and me in that they want to be able to live their lives with dignity, joy, and freedom.  Yet these adults are not like you and me, in that they might not be able to drive to the store, select groceries for diner, pay or count the change, or cook that dinner when they return home.  They might not be able to process multi~stepped tasks the way you and I do.  They might not have families to love them, scold them, get together and take them to the movies.  They might be depending on others to provide their clothing, their meals, their allotted monies.

I can't do everything.  But I can make Dot a shawl of blue so that she can feel pretty.  I can make Bill a maroon and white afghan so that he can show his love for MSU.  I can make a bag that will fit onto Sophie's walker and a large cloth so that Sam's shirt stays clean while he eats.

I know I like to receive something special that let's me know that I am thought of and cared for.  I think we all do.  Don't you?

1 comment:

Thanks for taking the time and effort to let your thoughts be known!