September 30, 2011
We distributed 9,000 comfort scarves so far this year; just 6,000 more to go to reach our goal of 15,000 by the end of the year. WE CAN DO IT!
Our success is due to a huge team of volunteers
Shelters are very grateful for our beautiful comfort scarves
Yarn companies and individuals have donated generously to our cause
Attending Vogue Knitting Live was good for Handmade
Our affiliated groups are making and donating scarves
Scarves are coming in from all over Los Angeles, California, the USA, and the world
And now for the details:
We distributed 1,000 comfort scarves again this month! That means all of you did a lot of kit making, knitting, crocheting, adding fringe, wrapping scarves, packing boxes, and shipping. There’s a lot that goes into the making and distributing of our comfort scarves. It used to be that just a few dedicated participants did it all, but our network of participants is growing and running fast to keep up with the demand for scarves. Thanks to June Grossberg’s support, we meet every Wednesday evening at her shop, Concepts in Yarn. Thanks to Sheri Schrier’s generosity, our kit makers meet at least once a week, if not twice, at the Happy Hats warehouse. To process all the scarves, we have two wrapping parties each month. By way of comparison, the 1,000 scarves we shipped this month doubles the 500 we delivered in September, 2010. The 9,000 scarves we’ve delivered so far in 2011 almost equals the 10,000 we shipped during the entire year of 2010. In October, we will equal 2010’s total. Wow. Thank you all who spend so much of your valuable time to make and distribute the scarves. You’re the greatest!
You’d almost think that after so long a time (Handmade began in October 2008) and after so many comfort scarves, that shelters might tire of them. But not at all. Shelters continue to appreciate, need, and want our scarves. In a handwritten note, Gina Galindo of the Fred Jordan Missions, expressed her desire for MORE scarves. “What a wonderful blessing it was to receive these scarves. We would love to have more.” Rest assured, Gina, more will be on their way soon.
Tracy Halstead, Director of Haven House, a shelter supported by Jewish Family Services, indicated her thanks: “Thank you for your generous donation of 20 handmade scarves. Your commitment to help abused women and children in our community is sincerely appreciated.”
Margaret Bayston, CEO/Executive Director of Laura’s House, described the two-fold impact of comfort scarves: “Not only does Laura’s House value your contribution, but (also) your community support which helps broaden awareness about domestic violence. . . “
Shannon Fors, Executive Director of The Domestic Violence Center of the Santa Clarita Valley, puts her thanks in the context of our difficult economy. “The 25 comfort scarves will be greatly appreciated by the women in our center. In our current unstable economy, we rely heavily on private donations to support our cause. . . .We realize there are many charities that you may choose to support. Thank you for choosing ours.”
Ditto from Heather Finlay, Chief Executive Officer of YWCA of San Diego County. “We can’t thank you enough for your commitment to those we help. . . We are especially grateful for your commitment to us during these challenging economic times.”
Ben Schirmer, Executive Director of Rainbow Services, the very first shelter to which we donated comfort scarves, wrote: “Your gift of 30 beautiful comfort scarves helps the women and children recovering from lives of trauma.”
Carol Adelkoff, CEO and Executive Director of 1736 Family Crisis Center, the second shelter to which we gave comfort scarves, said it again: “Your gift of 30 handmade comfort scarves makes such a difference to those most in need. . . Your thoughtful gift provides comfort to the women and children who are working hard to reach a better tomorrow, and your continued support is truly appreciated.”
We, of course, could not make so many scarves or such beautiful ones, without the generous support of yarn companies who agree with our the value of our project. September began with my coming home one afternoon to find 4 huge cases of yarn on my front porch. They came from Susan Druding of Crystal Palace Yarns. Susan knows just what we like and sends us regular shipments. But this was outstanding—106 pounds of yarn! When I wrote a thank you letter to Susan, I mentioned we needed size 17 knitting needles. Wouldn’t you know it. Susan packed up another box with size 17 needles and filled up the empty space in the carton with more yarn. It was waiting for me one afternoon the next week when I returned home.
Coats & Clark and Skacel Knitting both sent three boxes of solid colored yarn, which we’re always running out of. Knitting Fever, Lion Brand Yarn, Plymouth Yarn, and Trendsetter Yarns each sent a big case of yarn. I can’t tell you all how much I love it when I come home to find a box of yarn on my front porch. I feel like it is manna, dropping magically from the heavens, to fill Handmade’s insatiable hunger for yarn. Thank you, Susan Druding, Teresa Johnson, Becky Moss, Sion Elalouf, Jack Blumenthal, Pattie Tereskun, and Barry Klein. Please, keep that manna coming.
Karen Ing, a longtime supporter of Handmade, decided to whittle down her stash again. This time she found 350 skeins of yarn to donate. She must have some stash! Jeff Stemler gathered his deceased wife’s stash—3 cases and 2 huge trash bags worth-- and donated it to Handmade. He lives in San Diego and so does my son, Mitch. He gave the yarn to Mitch and then my husband and I used the opportunity of Mitch’s birthday to pick it up. What a treat! Meredith Zelaya, Founder of Knits for Needs, saw Handmade’s request for yarn on Ravelry. She sent a huge box of yarn. Manna—I’m not kidding.
I attended Vogue Knitting Live’s first event held in Los Angeles, at the Hyatt Regency in Century City. There were many classes and vendors. I took a class on Yarn Substitution because I wanted to learn how to adjust the amount of yarn we put into our kits when the weights of the yarns vary. I didn’t learn that, but the class was interesting. I learned a lot about many different varieties of yarns and confirmed some things I suspected about yarn, most notably that yarn manufacturers sometimes make a yarn look thicker by spinning a lot of air into the threads.
I visited every vendor in the Marketplace. Virginia Gibbs of Tootsie Yarns was displaying her fancy yarns. I met her several times previously at Concepts in Yarn. It was nice to see her again, especially since she filled up a bag with novelty yarn and gave it to me on the spot!
I made many other contacts who said they would ship yarn once they returned home from the show. One was Steve Be, owner of the Yarn Garage in Minneapolis MN. I told him we had a lot of volunteers in MN. He said he wanted to support Handmade, but didn’t want to ship yarn from MN to CA only for me to ship it back again. He offered instead to donate yarn directly to MN Handmade volunteers. I already have emailed them and they are very excited about this prospect. What a nice outcome.
Linda Friege, a dedicated local volunteer, has a sister in Philadelphia PA who had a lot of yarn to donate but, like Steve in MN, didn’t want to pay the shipping to send it to CA. I told Linda that Dr. Laura Guertin, organizer of a Handmade affiliate in Philadelphia might like it. Linda gave her sister the info and Dr. Laura is thrilled with the donation.
That tells us that the Philly affiliate is doing well. And so are others. I ran into Renee Hoffman at VKL. She was with several members from her local Knitting Guild. They all contribute to her affiliate in Long Beach CA. In my yarn class at VKL, I met a woman who wants to join our San Fernando Valley CA affiliate, headed by Vicki Ringer. She and Vicki have already touched base. Vicki is going strong. She has all the scarves she needs through the end of this year wrapped and tagged! Ann Miller, in Pueblo CO continues to deliver scarves to her local YWCA. Barb Kochuba’s group, Comfort Scarves, is growing. She now delivers 80 scarves each month to shelters in Pittsburgh and Southwestern PA.
Comfort scarves arrive every day from everywhere. Marsha Parkhill brought 185 scarves she collected from members of All Crafts for Charity. ACFC picks a charity each month and their members do the craft that charity specializes in. I was amazed when Marsha handed me the address labels she saved from the packages of scarves that came to her. ACFC has lots of members and the members come from at least as many places as Handmade’s contributors do. Luckily, Marsha said I could write one big thank you letter and she would distribute it to the membership.
Bonnie Jacobs (from Burlington NJ) hand delivered scarves to me. You may remember Bonnie. Last year, she wrote a pattern for an indoor crocheted Frisbee for Handmade. And she taught her daughter’s Girl Scout troop to knit so they could make comfort scarves. A multi-talented craftswoman, Bonnie was in LA to attend the dedication of a stained glass window she made for the Hollywood United Methodist Church (http://www.bonniejdesign.com/creations.htm). She knows how much Handmade needs comfort scarves so she stuffed 7 into her suitcase and gave them to me when we met for brunch. We were happy to meet in person. And aren’t her scarves beautiful! By the way, Bonnie is tall and I am short. In the photo, I am standing on the curb. You can see the photo of us on the Handmade website www.handmadeespecially.org
While we’re mentioning usual ways of getting comfort scarves to Handmade, I must mention Carmen Giovanna Saborio who shipped us 26 absolutely beautiful comfort scarves all the way from Heredia Costa Rica. When I thanked her profusely for her contribution, she told me it was her “honor” to participate in our cause. I was very touched!
We are back in touch with Peggy Bomba, the woman who teaches crochet to female inmates at the Craig County Jail in Craig CO. Every so often, I send a big box of crochet kits to Peggy. Whenever she gets a new group of girls, she teaches them crochet, which she says “keeps down the fighting.” When they learn it well enough, she allows them to do one of our kits. The girls are very proud of their accomplishment when the finish a kit and have made a lovely scarf. Some of them have been abused themselves and want to learn more about what they can do to change their lives. Peggy and I once talked on the phone for an hour, trying to find shelters for them once they left jail. The nearest shelter was in Reno NV. I love that making scarves helps the inmates and that receiving scarves helps the abuse victims. We never know the impact of what we do. Making comfort scarves has certainly turned out to have broader implications than I ever could have imagined.
Annette and Alexander Maass, our “knitting couple” from Leutenbach GERMANY have been regular contributors to Handmade ever since we started promoting Handmade on Ravelry. They sent so many scarves and yarn I thought they must own a yarn shop. But they don’t. In fact, for a long time, Annette wasn’t working. Last month she told me she got a job and would now make a monthly cash contribution to Handmade. I was astounded. And she has. I am so grateful. I appreciate her commitment to our cause, even from so far away.
I mentioned a while ago that Cindy Hanson made a generous donation. Ameriprise Financial, the company she works for, doubled it. Their check arrived this month. It covers one month’s shipping. Talk about manna. Please, if your company matches charitable donations, please consider donating to Handmade so they will too.
Needing actual $$$$ and trying to raise money is a whole new world for me. Luckily, I have received suggestions from our volunteers that I would like to share with you. Julie Billings, for instance, was making her Christmas list for her family. She thought: “Since I have so much, I am thinking about asking family to donate to Handmade Especially for You as a gift idea.” Julie asked me to tell her idea in the Newsletter in case any of you would like to do the same. And, if you would like to make a donation in honor of someone, I can do that too. Our Newsletter goes out far and wide so the mention would be meaningful.
Looking ahead. We have a lot to do before the end of the year. When we ship our 1,000 scarves in October, we will have only 5,000 to go to reach 15,000. The point isn’t 15,000 as a number. The point is that the shelters have holiday parties in December with lots of attendees. We hope to send 2,500 in November and finish up with another 2,500 in early December. We already have on hand more than 1,000 for October. We have piles of narrow scarves set aside for teens. We have hats saved for children. But we still need more than 4,000 new scarves. So that means we hope you will keep knitting/crocheting comfort like mad. Last year we needed 3,000 for the holidays but last year we served only 33 shelters. This year we serve 43 so we need that many more. The women and children who come to the shelters arrive with nothing but the clothes on their backs. They arrive in trauma, having just escaped from their abusive environment. Our scarves mean so much to them. Please, please keep your scarves coming.
In each Newsletter, I always try to thank everyone who has contributed during that month. I know I miss someone, but never on purpose. If you are one who was not mentioned, please don’t be insulted. I feel grateful to all Handmade’s participants, volunteers, scarfers, donors, and sponsors.
If you want to donate scarves or yarn, please mail them to:
Handmade Especially for You c/o Leslye Borden
30065 Grandpoint Lane
Rancho Palos Verdes CA 90275
If you want to donate $$$$, mail your check to the above address or make a donation through PayPal. You can access it on our website: www.handmadeespecially.org
Leslye Borden, Founder
Handmade Especially for You