Today my family is participating in the Worldwide Day of Service to kick-off the Christmas season – a challenge to do ANYthing for ANYone – you choose. I have this awesome neighbor named Kay. She is involved with so many humanitarian and charitable donations and she’s SO good at helping other people contribute. These were a bunch of dolls that were assembled and stuffed at a church humanitarian day few weeks ago. I got to stitch up the final closing seams. These are going to a Native American reservation for Christmas. So simple, but always feels good to help a good cause.
I’m not going to lie. 2016 has been an anxiety-filled year for me. (US politics was definitely a contributor.) I think the thing that has been the most unsettling for me is seeing the deterioration in the way people treat each other. I have no trouble with differences of traditions, beliefs, preferences – but I am troubled by the lack of willingness to try to understand where another person gets their point of view, or at the very least, respect the individual, even if you don’t see eye to eye. I’m a pretty strong believer that we are brothers and sisters and that we’re all different for a reason so that we can learn from and support each other.
The thing that brings me peace of mind and relief from those feelings of anxiety is doing something for someone else. I know that I can’t change global issues – but I can make a difference to someone – and usually, that person makes a difference to me too.
One of my favorite Instagram feeds is Do Something For Nothing. It is based on the idea that we can all do something for someone, using the talents and gifts that we have. It was started by Joshua Coombs who visits with people who live on the streets in London and gives them a free haircut. The stories he shares are so touching, and the thing that always means the most to the folks he helps, is that someone would just stop and listen. I think the offering of human dignity means the most.
This has made me think – what could you and I do, using our own talents and gifts to make someone’s day a little better? I know that this is an incredibly busy time of year, but think of the difference that small acts of love could do to change the mood – even if it’s just our own mood – and remind us that “Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.”
And so with that in mind, since most of you who stop by this blog are a quilty/fabricy/sewy sort, and knowing what a giving bunch you have been in the past, I thought I’d pull together a list of ideas and charities where you can make a difference.
If you’d like to start with your own community, check local women’s abuse shelters, homeless shelters, hospitals, etc and ask what they need most. Carewear.org will help you find a local hospital in your area in need of handmade donations.
If you’re looking for places to Donate Fabric check out this post from Sew Mama Sew.
Serving with Smiles is a Humanitarian organization that empowers kids to help serve. They can always use fabric and batting donations for blankets, bags, and quilt.
Many local Quilts of Valor chapters will gladly take quality red, white, and blue fabric.
Check with a local Quilt Guild. Guilds frequently head up charity projects. You can find your local quilt guild using this list of world wide traditional quilt guilds here and local Modern Quilt Guilds here and ask them if they’re looking for any donations.
Little Dresses for Africa – pillowcase dresses
Cases for Smiles – Donate a pillowcase for children with cancer
Enchanted Makeovers provides for women and children in shelters. They take pillowcases, dolls, super-hero capes, crocheted blankets
Dolls of Hope delivers handmade stuffed animals to children around the world.
Project Night Night – needs new blankets for Homeless children
For those in the UK: Siblings Together takes quilt donations
Quilts of Valor – quilts donated to men and women who are military veterans. Will also take fabric/batting donations. (Contact your local chapter.)
Bags of Love – needs quilts, bags, burp clothes, hats, doll blankets, etc. Will also take fabric donations.
Days for Girls – in need of sewn feminine hygiene kits
Luke’s Loves – in connection with Project Linus
Sarah Craig hosts a Hands 2 Help Quilt challenge every year. Follow her blog for more upcoming information for this year’s challenge – especially if working with a group helps your motivation.
One cause that has unfortunately become a meaningful one for me is a result of 6 close friends diagnosed with breast cancer in the past year. SIX! It’s been sobering. Most of you probably have someone you love who’s dealt with, or is dealing with breast cancer. Melly Sews has a great pattern for this camisole for mastectomy patients. A friend (who is my age) who went through a double mastectomy this year, mentioned how much she wishes she’d known about these earlier. Me too.
For more posts about places that take and need handmade donations, Lindsay shares more places to Donate Quilts in this post, and Melissa has a Charity Sewing Round-up here.
Also, check out my Sew Goodness page that I continually update with more specific needs and causes to help.
If making something is not feasible for you at this time, consider a donation or some Christmas shopping from an organization that helps victims of abuse and the sex trade regain their dignity and self-worth
Sacred Sewing Rooms teaches women and children in shelters useable sewing skills
Here are more of my tips for pacing yourself when it comes to charitable sewing as well as making sure the charity you are donating to actually needs the items you want to give. (Great article here about crafting for charity.)
Make sure the items you are making and donating are actually getting in the hands of people who need them. I’ve tried to only list charities that have a proven record for using and distributing the donated items. But check their actual needs and materials specifications so that you don’t waste any of your or their valuable time.
I know it’s not always feasible to try and make a full quilt or take on a big project at this time of year.
But what if we all made one pillowcase or pillowcase dress?
Or donated some of our excess fabric to someone who could use it?
Or gave someone an extra hug and 5 minutes of our time just to listen?
The message in this video sums it up for me. It doesn’t matter if you are a person of faith, or just looking for a way to be a force for good, finding ways to listen with love is a wonderful way to to make life better for yourself and those around you. None of us can do everything, but each of us can do something.
If you are aware of other great causes and resources, please leave them in the comment section!
POST EDIT: Some have asked about the dolls in the first picture. They are a fast, simple way to make a bunch of items quickly, and a good way to use up extra fabric. Trace the doll template on the front of the fabric. Place two pieces wrong sides together and sew the doll together right on the traced line, leaving an opening in one of the legs for stuffing. Cut out the shape of the doll with pinking shears, leaving about ½″ seam allowance. Stuff the doll and sew up opening. Tie ribbon around the neck or sketch a simple face. The possibilities are endless. This is a great project for involving kids or those with minimal sewing experience.
what a wonderful post, you warmed my heart on this chilly evening. You have inspired me, I will post on my blog in the next day or two
Amy, I’m horrible, even with simple patters, but is there anyway I could get a copy of the stuffed dolls? Just a simple outline would be great! You’re article and words really inspired me and I know I could make a difference quickly with extra fabric I have on hand in making those for a local group that is gathering items for children in third world countries.
Thanks you in advance if you can help me.
Great question! I just updated the post with more information about the stuffed dolls and how they were put together. They are great, simple project and you can mass produce a bunch of them quickly. I found this pattern template that would work: https://www.bevscountrycottage.com/bevs-dolly.html
Great post, usually you can donate quilts to your local Women’s abuse shelter. They love them, just don’t put your name on the label. Also make pillowcases out of the fabric for hospitals for children or nursing homes for adults. I get my guild to make at least 250 each year.
That is so awesome!!
This year has been a doozy, no doubt about it. I am convinced that if we want to reset the MEMEMEMEME button, we must MUST step outside of ourselves and serve others.
Libby in TN
This post is definitely a keeper. For those interested, Thistle Farms supports women breaking out of the bonds of prostitution. They began by making and packaging wonderful natural soaps and creams (available at Middle Tennessee Kroger stores) and have grown to include sewing projects.
Does Thistle Farms have a website? I’d like to check it out!
I love the story of Thistle Farms! Here is the website: https://thistlefarms.org/
Thank you, Amy, for sharing these many charities where we can help or donate to. I was so happy to finally find a hospital close by that has a NICU Unit and Pediatric Ward that was in need of baby quilts. (Our local hospital is too small for this). I love making baby quilts and felt this to be my little Mission – and felt so rewarded when they ‘needed’ these little items. Beautiful video! Loved your Blog Post!
That is so wonderful! Filling a need close to home is a heart-warming thing, isn’t it?
Wonderful post 🙂
Thank you so much for this inspiring post. It is with-out a doubt the the true meaning of Christmas. We all need to be needed and the list you shared for giving was very helpful.
Thank you Virginia. xo
Thank you Amy. Another great place to leave your unwanted fabric, sheets, blankets and pillowcases is at a Lutheran Church. https://lwr.org/get-involved/quilts
Most Lutheran churches have a quilt guild where they make quilts for Lutheran World Relief. I belong to my church guild and fabric, sheets, etc just appears at our work space. Our church congregation knows we make lovely quilts! We also make fabric kits to send. https://lwr.org/get-involved/build-kits-of-care/fabric-kits
Last year our guild alone, with about 10 ladies, made over 100 quilts and many fabric kits! Thank you for the postings. Carol
Awesome!! I’m always glad to have a resource for people to send to where I know the fabric is put to good use!! What wonderful work you are doing. xo
Really wonderful post Amy. Thank you. I recently retired and have more time to make a difference outside my family. I participate in a monthly cleanup in my rural town and help a grandma take care of her twin grandchildren once or twice a week so her daughter (my daughter’s good friend) work along side her husband in their business. I have a burden on my heart to make quilts for military family babies born on base. This comes from my own 8 year old granddaughter who was born at Camp LeJeune in North Carolina. My daughter was given a package of several items including a hand made crocheted blanket. The idea has grown over the years and my goal this year will be to get started!
Oh, your comment brought tears to my eyes, thinking of your granddaughter born at Camp LeJeune and receiving that special gift. What a sweet way for you to now share the love forward!
Thanks for the great post! I started a pinterest page called Sew for Good to earmark all the groups for which we can make things to donate.
Awesome! Could you share the link to your Pinterest Page? That sounds like such a great resource!
I love your post because it is not in praise of commercialism, or how many xmas trees you have in your house, or supporting a specific religion that divides from others with different beliefs. I to make quilts and other items throughout the year and gift them to people around me and in my wider community who may be going through a difficult time. I love your thoughtfulness for others.
Thank you, Lauren. And good for you! Those quilts are needed year round, aren’t they? Thank you for your kind words – they meant a lot.
I think you are one amazing person. I have admired your quilts, loved learning from you, and enjoy your beautiful nature shots/videos on instagram. But this post has really touched my heart. You write so beautifully about our need to care for one another. I too have discouraged about the lack of civility and have taken a break from most media so I can calm my anxiety. This post is all about what is right with the world. One small act is so powerful. Blessing to you and your family.
I totally relate! I’ve had to stop reading the news and Facebook, haha. It was too stressful and depressing! Being more focused on what I CAN do and what is in my control has made a big difference. Thank you so much for your kind words. Blessings to you too!
Thanks for this again this year Amy – a great reminder to be grateful for what we have and understand how it multiples when we spread it. Thank you also for including Days for Girls among your mentions. Every year my stepdaughter and her friends and I get together during the holiday season to sew for this incredibly worthwhile organization.
Love this post! So many great ideas. A free haircut! How personal, tender, and loving can you get?! Beautiful. One thing our family does before Christmas is eat more simply in December (less meat, less cheese, less dessert) and then donate what we’ve saved on our grocery bill. It adds up so fast! I think this year we’re splitting between a boys’ orphanage in Tijuana and a shelter for women and children with special needs. It’s fun for our kids to pick our target charity, and it also makes the Christmas feast that much better!
A great roundup, and also a lovely new IG account to follow so we can help year round, thank you!
i support two Atlanta groups re:loom Initiative for Affordable Housing 3032 N.Decatur Rd
Scottsdale GA 30079
Amani Women’s Center Health,Education and Empowerment 3550 Clarkston Ind. Blvd
Clarkston GA 30021
Good for you Sandra! And thank you for the helpful info!
This is an excellent post! Thank you for encouraging others to reach out and help those in need. Imagine all the good that would come in the world if everyone did just a little something for someone else every day! I’ve no doubt we’d all be much happier.
My dear, sweet Amy…You make me want to be a better person. I’m so glad I know you.
Needle and Foot
Thank you Amy, for compiling this awesome list of ways to help. I really appreciate it and look forward to choosing some of these to support. Happy Holidays!
Pam @Threading My Way
Beautifully written, Amy. Last year I wrote a post on Helping Others Through Sewing. It has links to organisations across the world, including many in Australia…
Thank you Pam! That is so helpful!
Amy, what a beautiful post. Thank you. I’m saving this one for future reference. There is a group of ladies where I live that make quilts for children living in poverty. All year long we make quilts. Some that sew in the group aren’t quilters but they help by pressing fabric, tying quilts, etc. Each year these quilts get to the children through the school they attend.
You are right that it is important to pay close attention to where our donations end up going. The ladies discovered a few years ago that some of the children who received quilts were from families who most certainly had the funds to purchase one. They discussed this with the folks at the school and this issue has been corrected.
In our area the PD collects and distributes toys to needy children in the area. This is similar to Toys for Tots but isn’t Toys for Tots.
Your church or many of the local churches can connect you with ways to help the homeless. Here one of the churches has a list of items that the homeless need. This month hats, scarves and gloves are added to the regular items needed and distributed by the Church on Christmas Eve. But twice a month all year items are distributed to the homeless through this church.
Churches (and local town representative offices in our area) collect and distribute canned food for families in need. Some churches in our area collect 2nd hand clothing that is sold to families in need through their thrift store at affordable prices for them. People that don’ have the money to purchase the clothes can sometimes get clothes for free.
And this time of year can be especially lonely for some elders who don’t have family nearby. Visiting an assisted living facility would be appreciated by the residents. Many spend the holidays alone. This includes neighbors or others who are living in their home independently but are alone. They may need a little help with yard work, etc. – or just a visit to say hello.
Comfort Critters is an organization who collects blankets for shelter animals. The pet blankets can be donated to Comfort Critters or to a shelter/rescue in your area. But if donating to shelters in your area check with what their needs are first. https://www.comfortforcritters.org/
Local animal shelters in our area always need pet food, toys, cleaning supplies, towels and of course funds to help the animals.
I read an article by Kim Einmo in an issue of AQS magazine, where she suggests having an extra trash can in your sewing room. Line it with an old pillowcase you no
longer want or use, and toss in your fabric scraps and batting scraps. When it’s full, sew up the end and donate it to a local pet shelter. However when I called the shelter near me, he said they don’t accept them because the dogs chew them up. So check with your shelter first before donating blankets.
Our quilt guild asked each of our members to donate a quilt to our local hospital’s breast cancer center. We also have a “stash” of quilts we give for emergencies. E.g. One local family’s house burned down and they lost everything so we were able to give each family member a quilt. It gives me a purpose for my passion of quilting! Amy, you article was so heartwarming!
Thanks Rita. xo Good reminder to always check the needs first!
I am also saving this because doing good is something we can do each day. A quilt isn’t made in one day, at least not by me. Thank you so much for sharing these wonderful ideas! Another place for goodness is donating knitted or crocheted caps to cancer hospitals. Temporary bald heads get so very cold. The yarn need to be soft enough for a newly bald head to be comfortable.
Thank you so much, Amy, for mentioning Project Linus. Since I retired earlier this year, I have been heavily involved in my local chapter in Northern Virginia outside of Washington DC. Not only do I make quilts, but my house also is the drop-off point for blankets, afghans and quilts. Based on discussions with the chapter coordinator, I either hand off some of the blankets to another volunteer for distribution in her area or take them myself to local hospitals, medical clinics, and homeless shelters. I feel Project Linus best combines my quilting skills and desire to help sick and traumatized children in the region.
This post made me tear up! Thank you so much for sharing! This year instead of exchanging gifts with my husbands family we are all donating to the karadah project. They don’t need handmade items just money. I’ll share the link. I did a lot of research and emailed the director. It’s truly an amazing organization. If nothing else it will make your heart sing!
What a great post, Amy! You have highlighted so many worthy causes – I’m honored to have the Hands2Help Challenge included! Our church has set a challenge this year for each member to spontaneously serve at least two people each week – as simple as helping load groceries in a car or paying for their meal, or as complex as building a wheelchair ramp – but imagine the impact, and also the change that serving spontaneously will become a habit! I’ve already had people ask about joining our church’s quilt ministry. How exciting! Maybe next year will be more hopeful and less stressful!
This is such a lovely post, especially this time of year. You not only inspired me, but guided me to take action in my own community to get quilts made and donated. I started a gofundme so that I have the humble opportunity to transform money donations into handmade quilts to donate to every hospital and shelter I can! I am so excited to make both parties feel good; the donators who know exactly where their money is going, and the donatees who receive their blessings as comfort objects!
Fantastic idea!! I would love to have Precious Dresses For Africa added to this list. we work on 100% donated items. We make pillowcase dresses, shorts, menstrual kits and include a small stuffed you in the pocket of each outfit sent around the world. We focus on local homeless for their winter needs as well. 225 dresses sent to Haiti this week!!
Pat Tom England
Your sentiments and information are wonderful, Amy! Well expressed… and I can commiserate.
I have some drapery fabric in good condition I would love to donate to someone/some organization. Unless I missed part of your blog, I am mostly seeing organizations that take finished products, rather than ‘raw materials.’ Any suggestions as to who I might contact about my fabric?
Thank you. I’ve noted a few on the list that take fabric donations. There is also a link to a post at Sew Mama Sew that also takes fabric donations.
Great post, Amy! I work with a large group of volunteers (200 and counting) here in Western Connecticut with a non-profit organization called Quilts That Care. Our quilts go to Cancer patients all over the state.. In the 5 years we have been together we have given out over 2,000 quilts….over 400 this year alone. We are always in need of cotton batting and welcome donations of cotton fabrics for our creations. You can find more info on us on our Facebook page. Thanks for giving a shout out to all the volunteers who give of themselves to bring a bit of happiness to others.!
Where are you located
I’m in Utah.
This are such great causes and it helps me … as much as the items help others … to share. Thank you for all the help you give to us and others. Sadie’s Dream for a Cure will send you kits that are cut out and ready to sew (including the batting). They’ll send you the pattern to use your fabric as well. Rare Bears ( http://www.rarescience.org/rare-bear-program/) program is great. The pattern is simple and they will even do the stuffing if you just make the bears … for children. Donating clothes, toiletries,, toys, etc. to shelters is also welcomed. Abused women and children sometimes leave their homes with what they are wearing and that’s all they have.. However much or however little … it all helps.
Wonderful suggestions. Thank you!!
Lisa Poblenz (patternandbranch)
I was looking through your article as I was looking for places to donate extra sewing supplies and clicked on the Instagram link for Do Something for Nothing, and it took me to a very obscene picture. I think you may want to redo that link since I’m sure it’s not the link you actually posted (can someone hack a single link?). I was afraid to try any other links. This looks like a great article that could do a lot of good. Just wanted to let you know so the good intentions of your article don’t get sullied by hacked links.
Oh Yikes! Thanks so much for the heads up on that! I updated the link with the Instagram feed (which is what it should have been in the first place – not sure what happened there!) I double checked the rest of the links and they are all correct. (and safe.)
Thanks again for letting me know so I could fix that link!
Hello All… I have inadvertently started a ‘pay it forward’ trend here in Northeast Georgia and would like to now help this ministry keep the stock replenished. The story is here: https://www.gainesvilletimes.com/news/man-ministry-team-honor-moms-love-sewing/
It’s a much smaller recipient, but they would certainly appreciate any donations as well 🙂
Another organization that make crib size quilts for charity is Binky Patrol. Here is a link https://binkypatrol.org
There are chapters in many areas around the country and the nice thing about the quilts we make is they are distributed locally. The chapters also take fabric donations.
Fantastic! Thank you so much for sharing! I’ll add them to the list!
I just found this site and it looks wonderful. Will sit down and give it a good look again.
We greet you from India.
Thanks for your beautiful quilts and dolls for Charity.
Could you please supply of your beautiful quilts and dolls to our Children at Orphanage/School in India?.
I’ve been trying to find a Native American reservation that would be interested in receiving donated pillow case dresses. Can you point me in the right direction?
I have a neighbor with contacts at the Navajo Nation. Let me ask her who would be a good person to talk to. Email me at email@example.com. Thanks, Sandy!
PATRICIA M MCMULLEN
Lynnette take a look at Dolls on Mission.net It is a group that I belong to, If you want to contact me you can. firstname.lastname@example.org – Hugs, Pat
PATRICIA M MCMULLEN
I am a member of Dolls on missions. We have several missions that we use material for. We made and donated over 3000 face mask. Our main project is making Dolls for missionaries to take world wide for children. Our total is over 130,000. We can be viewed on Facebook or on line at dollsonmission.net
My husband and I have made 600 dresses for Africa girls in the past year.
Any material not used is given to local quilters.
We are located in Monroe, NC. Our main contact is Joann Mucci at 704-283-6784. Or I can be emailed at email@example.com or phone 980-313-8735.
We would appreciate any donations. Any thing in NC or northern SC I might able to pick up.
fabric scraps and fabric notions are now being accepted at
2159 Sunset Drive
Paducah, Kentucky 42003
We make quilts to give go children in need of a quilt this winter.
Thanks in advance
Thank you so much for sharing, Angela! xo
Mary Schwandt-Kelly Ryan
Great story! I work for Bundles of Love in Minnesota. We provide diaper bags filled with over 30 items for newborns in need. We welcome donations of baby quilts and blankets, newborn size sleepers, bibs, receiving blankets, burp rags, crocheted/knitted sweaters, hats, booties etc. Also donations of flannel, cotton quilting fabric and cotton knits. http://www.bundlesoflove.org Mailing address – Bundles of Love, PO Box 240301, Apple Valley, MN 55124
I saw the Quote “Do anything ffor anyone” Couldn’t resist “Be Good for Nothing!” I’m 80 and trying to reduce my stash (offaabric). I’ll probably use one of your recommended charities.