It’s a great time to give back.

Because I was raised with two skis practically attached to my feet, winter is my absolute favorite time of year.  Any opportunity that I have to play in the snow, I take it!  One unfortunate side-effect of me being around snow is that the cheesy grin you see below is pretty well perma-glued on my face the whole time.  There are worse things, I suppose. 

Sadly for me, Portland’s winters are generally pretty chilly and wet, but not the kind of wet that I like; the kind that comes down in raindrops. We don’t get a ton of snow (except for that one year when we did) but the air at night is absolutely bone chilling.  While not ideal for a skier, the lack of snow is actually a really great thing.  Portland, Oregon is home to approximately 20,000 homeless men, women and children; approximately 13,000 of which do not have any place to go for shelter at night. Obviously, homelessness is not just a concern in Oregon.  A study done in 2009 reported that one in every 66 people living in major US cities used a residential homeless program in the subject year.

Before she retired two years ago, my mom worked for Multnomah County’s Adult Protective Services.  The Protective Services Department receives referrals and investigates allegations of abuse, self-neglect, and financial exploitation of seniors and people with disabilities who live either in a care facility or in their own home.  My mom was one of the people who investigated claims of abuse and neglect and helped make sure that the people who needed help, received it.  I remember as a child, one of my favorite holiday traditions was helping my mom bake cookies.  For days we would bake, frost, decorate, bundle, and box up sweets — from your standard sugar cookies, to lemon bars and fudge.  When all was said and done, we would have easily over 50 boxes chock full of cookies and sweets.  That’s a lot of treats!

Every year, about 10 boxes would go to our close family and friends, five boxes would get sent with me to school to share with classmates, and the rest would all go to my mom’s “clients”.  My mom was always so excited on those days when she got to bring her clients cookies.  She would come home with the biggest smile on her face and share with me how happy they were when they received them.  It always made me feel so good to help my mom, like I was taking part in helping someone.  Really showing someone that they are loved and cared about.

Here’s a picture of my mom frosting a sugar cookie that I took of her right before she retired. As you can see from the picture, the house gets to looking like a disaster but, it’s just so fun!

Now that my mom has retired, we still make cookies every year, but I can’t help but feel like I need to do more.  Enter Knit Picks.  As a knitting company, we have boxes upon boxes of knitted and crocheted goods made up every year.  Before we offer a Knit Picks exclusive pattern or kit, the project has be test knit and checked for accuracy.  At the end of every year, we donate all of the wonderful garments, accessories and house-wares to charities. To give you an idea of quantity, here’s a picture that shows just some of the items we have to give away.

Last year, we donated several boxes of women’s garments to Dress for Success, a big box of items to Our Mother’s House, some knitted accessories to our wonderful Stacey’s gym for a clothing drive they were having, and even a big box of fabric squares to the humane society to serve as bandanas.  As you can see from the photo above, this year, we are once again blessed with having TONS of garments and accessories to donate.  We’ve already donated a few huge boxes of items to the Salvation Army, another big box of garments is going to the Friends of Pine Ridge Reservation, a Native American reservation in South Dakota; about five bins of women’s garments are going to Dress for Success and lots of big warm sweaters for men and women of all ages are being donated to the Portland Rescue Mission.  I am so proud to be part of such a giving organization and love that I am able to give a helping hand to those in need.

I’d love to hear what types of things you do in your communities to help out.  Are there any special causes that you relate especially well to?  Let me know, I am always looking for new ways to give back. 

Thanks for reading, I hope you and yours have a safe and happy holiday!