Monday, September 18, 2017

Volunteer to Make a Difference--From Home

When my parents passed away a few years ago, I suddenly found myself with a lot of free time. It quickly became clear that I needed something meaningful to fill the void that their passing left in my life. I was lucky to find a volunteer opportunity at a community resale shop that gave me a creative outlet, a fun circle of friends, and a chance to make a difference.

However, my circumstances have changed once again, and I need some volunteer projects that I can do from home. Thinking that there may be some of you out there in a similar situation, let me share some fun ones that I have found. Some of them require sewing, but others can but done with items that you purchase and put together. You can work on these projects alone or invite others to your home to share the joy. I will try to update this as I find more ideas:

Dolls to Donate: While I was working at the resale shop, I bought used 18 inch dolls and cleaned them up. My goal is to give each doll two different outfits, complete with shoes and fun accessories--dress and pajamas, swimming suit and jeans/top, skirt/sweater and cheerleading outfit, etc. I make the outfits from scratch, revamp small baby clothes, or scour resale shops for used doll clothes that I bring home, wash, and refresh. I put each doll and her clothing in a fabric bag that I make from my still-too-large stockpile of fabric. I donate these dolls to a local women's shelter, but they would also work for refugees, children's hospitals, and other children's charities. My granddaughter and her friends had so much fun putting together the outfits and dressing the dolls.

Days for Girls: This is an amazing project that blesses girls and young women in countries throughout the world. The non-profit group creates feminine hygiene kits for girls in third world countries where menstration can interupt education and jobs and sometimes leads to personal harm. There are opportunties to sew different components for the kits and donate them to local chapters of the organization. For example, there is a chapter about 30 minutes from where I live where I can drop off the things that I make. Ultimately, they will be assembled and delivered to girls in Africa, South America, India and other countires along with helpful education. Here is a link to the official site which includes informational videos, instructions, and patterns:

The Preemie Project: This group has various projects that can be made for new moms and their preemie babies and for parents who lose their babies at birth. Snuggle hearts for preemies, soft blankets, hats, and burial outfits are some of the things they ask for. Instructions and patterns are available for download at: Again, you can send them to the official non-profit company or donate them to local hospitals.

Newborn blankets: You don't need an official organization to make a difference. A large hospital near me that services the disadvantaged members of our community is thrilled to get flannel receiving blankets. The volunteer director told me that they have had parents take their babies home wrapped in newspaper; they simply couldn't afford a blanket. Purchase flannel when it is on sale (look for red tag clearance flannel at JoAnns), cut it into 45" or larger lengths, and serge the edges. Warm, soft and simple.

Project Night Night: This group puts together comfort bags for homeless children. Each fabric bag includes a soft blanket, a brand new children's book, and a new stuffed animal. You can purchase official bags from the non-profit, buy your own bag from a store, or simply sew one. Our local police force was thrilled to have us offer them bags that we are putting together in an upcoming service project at church. They can also be donated to homeless shelters, women's shelters and children's hospitals. You can find more information here:

Pillowcases for Children's Hospitals, or Hospice Patients: Last Christmas, one of our grandsons spent Christmas week in the hospital fighting a serious strep infection. While he was there, he was given a soft, flannel Star Wars pillowcase. He is a huge Star Wars fan, and having the force with him during that difficult time was magical. The pillowcase is still a favorite. There are all kinds of sites out there that give directions and suggestions for making and donating cases. Here is one of them:

No-sew Lap Blankets for the Elderly or Children's Hospitals: During his hospital stay, our grandson was also given small fleece blanket. Nine months later, it is still his go-to thing to snuggle with. It is simply a square piece of fleece that someone made special by cutting and tying a fringe around each side. Here is a fun fringing idea from the internet:
These blankets also make ideal gifts for nursing home residents or for cancer patients to use during chemo sessions.

We can make a difference!