I made a few remarks at the end of our lunch and I would like to share them with you. See photos on our website's Photo Gallery.
Every year I remind you “It takes a village” to make a comfort scarf. And it does. We’re the village. It takes all of us to achieve the huge accomplishment Handmade has done this year: We sent 12,230 scarves, 1,335 hats and almost 400 baby items to 70 shelters for abused and/or homeless women. 167,240 scarves since we started in 2008. How does our village do this?
We start with generous yarn donors—both yarn companies and committed individuals, who contribute fabulous yarn, all textures, weights and colors. Once we have yarn. What happens next? A comfort scarf is made up of three different yarns— the A, the main yarn that runs throughout the scarf; the fun fur or novelty yarn, 2 25-foot pieces, one for the beginning and end of each scarf; and the B, an 85-yard ball of yarn that runs with the A between the 2 pieces of the fun fur/novelty yarn.
How do we get the components? Some volunteers measure the B-yarn into 85-yard balls. Other volunteers measure fun fur and novelty yarns. Once we have these two essential parts, we’re ready to make Magic Balls.
I select the A yarn, 5 balls of B yarn, and 5 packets of fun fur/novelty yarn and put them into a bag. Volunteers wind the yarns into “Magic Balls,” the essence of Handmade’s scarf making program.
Once we have the Magic Balls ready, the scarf makers--knitters and crocheters—come to a parking lot in Torrance on Wednesday afternoons to pick them up. If they can’t make it to a Wednesday afternoon pick up location, they can get Magic Balls from bins on the porches more volunteers. A few volunteers make sure these locations have plenty of kits and pick up the finished scarves. We also mail boxes of Magic Balls to knitting groups throughout CA and a few places throughout the US.
Some participants here and throughout the US, from as far away as FL, use their own stash to make comfort scarves and mail finished scarves to us. Some scarves need additional work and go to the scarf hospital. We have a few scarf doctors who add fun fur where necessary, weaves in loose ends, makes sure all the scarves have signed gift tags. They make sure each comfort scarf is perfect enough to give to an abuse survivor.
Once the scarves are made, another group of volunteers rolls the scarves and ties them with colorful curling ribbon so each scarf becomes a personal gift to its recipient. On shipping days, once a month, volunteers pack boxes of wrapped scarves for distribution to our 70 shelters for abused and/or homeless women.
Generous donors contribute money to defray the cost of shipping.
Volunteers maintain the website, keep the books, print gift tags, punch holes in the gift tags, drive here and there, and on and on and on.
Yes, Handmade is a huge village. The responsibility for Handmade’s success doesn’t fall on any single villager. It takes all of us to get the job done. All of you have done many of the jobs I just described. Each of you performs a crucial role that makes our scarf project so successful.
What’s the impact of our scarves? We do all this work, but what’s the result? We receive thank you letters from many of our shelters. The directors tell us how important our scarves are. Letters from the shelters tell us that the women who receive our scarves can’t believe that someone they don’t even know has made something so beautiful for them. Receiving one of our scarves lifts their spirits—they arrive at the shelters very depressed, usually with nothing but the clothes on their backs—and receiving a scarf gives them hope. It makes them receptive to begin the hard work-- therapy and education-- the shelters offer so that their future lives will be abuse free.
Making comfort scarves for abused women and hats for their children makes us feel pretty good too. We love being creative, productive, helpful, and having an impact on our community. Hearing how shelters love what we send makes us happy. Plus, we enjoy each other’s friendship and companionship. We are busy. Yes, most of us are retired, but we’re still in the thick of life, making important contributions. We’re a wonderful team! I feel so lucky to work with you. Give yourself a big pat on the back for all you have done and do for abused women by participating in Handmade. I know we make a difference, and the difference we make is important. Get ready for another wonderful year in 2023. Keep your needles clicking!Love, Leslye