It happened after Hurricane Sandy. It happened after the Newtown School shootings. It happened after the Boston Marathon bombing. It will happen again after the next extremely difficult event that impacts a community in a tragic way. Crocheters (along with knitters and other crafters) immediately respond by banding together to create and send handmade items to the victims and families of the victims. It may seem like a simple act but this continuous response to tragedy from our generous community has many motivations behind it and many benefits that ripple through the world.
Why We Crochet in the Face of Tragedy
When something terrible happens that frightens all of us who read about it in the news there’s an immediate urge to help somehow. Why do crocheters turn to their craft in the wake of these disasters? There are many reasons:
- We do this because it is a way that we can contribute. We can’t all send money to help the victims of a tragedy. We can’t all fly to every disaster and give hands-on help to those in need. But we can offer handmade blankets, socks, and hats to those who have been displaced or harmed and need new items.
- We do this because it offers comfort to others in their time of need. Sometimes the items that we send to the victims of a tragedy aren’t practical or “necessary” but they offer comfort. Blankets, toys and prayer shawls all let the victims of emergencies know that there are others out there who care, who are thinking of them, who want to help. If you’ve ever been the recipient of a handmade item in a time of need then you know the value of this gift.
- We do this because it calms us down. Many people are personally hugely emotionally affected by the disasters in the world. It is terrifying to think that a storm could sweep through and take away our homes. It is horrifying to think that we could send our child to school and have them not return home. We don’t know what to do with these feelings but crochet helps. This calming, meditative, healing craft reduces our anxiety. The fact that we can craft for others in need helps us feel more relaxed even in the face of these horrors.
Restoring Balance to the World
There is also something a little bit more magical at work when we crochet as a mass reaction to a big tragedy. It is hard to explain exactly why or how but when something negative happens it helps to balance it out with positive actions. Maybe you believe in an exchange of energy in the universe. Or maybe you have simply seen how responding to a negative situation with a positive, hopeful attitude is immensely powerful and truly creates change. Whatever the reason, generous actions like crocheting for victims visibly restores a sense of balance to the world. We all want to be hopeful. We all want to believe in human goodness. We don’t always know what to do when something shakes our faith in that but we can help restore that faith by acting good ourselves. Donating a lovingly handmade item to a person in need is that type of act of goodness.
How You Can Craft Through the Next Disaster
Next time that you hear about something devastating happening somewhere and you want to help, here’s what you can do:
- First find out if there are any handmade items that are needed and are already being accepted by existing organizations. For example, when a natural disaster causes homelessness there is often a need for warm blankets and hats, which are frequently accepted by local shelters.
- Check with your social networks and the crochet bloggers to see if groups are forming to send handmade donations. These groups really do form quickly in the vacuum after any rough event. Check Facebook, Twitter and Ravelry to see what people are saying. Ask on those sites if anyone’s organizing anything.
- Consider forming your own group to send donations. If no groups have formed but you get a good response on social media from people who want to help then you can work together to organize donations. Check out FreshStitches’ article about the response to the Newtown Shootings to see one example of how some crafters came together to get toys to victims.
- Ask yourself what you would want to receive if you were going through the tragedy yourself. Would you want a stuffed crochet toy for your child? Would you want a comforting lapghan? Would you like to be inspired by crochet art? You can make any item that you think someone might need and then find a home for it. You only need to send one item to one person to make a difference in their life as well as in your own emotional response to the events. When you have an item you can use social media or contact local organizations to find a family for the donation.
Crochet donations do more than you might think following a tragedy. Be a part of that positive reaction!
About the Author
Kathryn Vercillo blogs about all things crochet, from fashion to news, art, and CALs at Crochet Concupiscence. You can learn more about her new book, Crochet Saved My Life, at crochetsavedmylife.com.
Article © Kathryn Vercillo. All rights reserved.