The spirit of giving

If you’re reading this, you can safely count yourself among the comfortably fortunate. Access to the internet, heat, warm clothing and a family with whom to gather this holiday season are things we might all easily take for granted. But not everyone is so lucky.

Although need has no season, the season of sharing and giving seems to highlight the contrast between those who have and those who have not. It’s this season that reinvigorates my commitment to charitable causes. When I found out about the Mittens for Akkol drive by The Motherless Child Foundation, I knew that I’d found a cause that would truly make a difference. This group of volunteers is spearheaded by parents who adopted children from the orphanage in Akkol, Kazakhstan, but couldn’t bear to leave the other children behind. From The Motherless Child Foundation‘s website:
The Motherless Child Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit public charity, was
founded by two parents who fell in love with all of the children in an
orphanage when they went to adopt only two. Three adoptions and four
children later, we are still reaching out to those children we had to
leave behind. Another adoptive parent explained it best, “I went home
and cried for the children I left behind. [They] went home and started a

It all started with a Ravelry post in the Charity Knitting board requesting socks. Since I’d knit a bunch of kids’ socks earlier this year, I figured a few more wouldn’t be a problem. But as I read on about the charity, and especially about the recipients of these socks, it struck me just how much a simple thing like warm socks can make a huge difference in the life of someone halfway around the world. So I started knitting.

Because Kazakhstan is such a cold place (down to -40 degrees in the winter!), thick wool socks are the footwear of choice. I’ve found that Wool of the Andes is perfect for these socks – a standard child size pair (fits about 8-9 years old) takes exactly one ball of one color, and about a third of a ball of a second color. Since I have lots of leftovers and scraps and odd balls in my own stash, these are great stashbusters, too. But working at Knit Picks means that I also have access to the leftovers here in the office. We get lots of leftover yarn with our projects, and rather than throw these scraps away, I do my best to make good use of them.

Waste not, want not!

As I was working on pair after pair of socks, I kept getting drawn back to their site, to read about the projects the foundation does and see the photos of the happy kids recieving their gifts. And it’s not just socks and mittens – there’s so much more they do for these kids. Right now, especially, they’re taking donations to make sure every child in the orphanages gets something for C’Novim Godom, their winter holiday. The gifts that they will be able to purchase will be so special to these children.

“Children in orphanages are no different
from any other children. They feel that excitement that you know only as
a child, the hope that Santa (or Grandfather Frost) will bring a toy
car, a baby doll, a bike. Yet every year, they receive only a small box
of candy. And as the years go by, they lose the hope that Grandfather
Frost will remember them. They wonder what they have done to cause
Grandfather Frost to turn away.

Every child deserves to feel that thrill of receiving a gift during the holidays and to know that someone cares.”

At this point, I’m knitting feverishly. I want to knit for every one of them. My socktopus was full to bursting.

But it never feels like enough. I found several wool hats in my donation box, washed them, and prepared to send my package as the deadline approached.

Each sock was labeled with its size, so that it would go to just the right child.

And I just made it! The package was recieved on my birthday – a wonderful present. Even though this particular round of knitting is over, the need never goes away at the orphanages. Winters are long and hard, new children enter the orphanages and the other orphans keep growing. There is always a need. And luckily for the orphans in Akkol, there is The Motherless Child Foundation to make sure that their needs are met. But, as with so many other causes, they can’t do it alone. They and the children they serve rely on the generosity and kindness of knitters (or anyone that can spare a few dollars to help with their programs!).

Over the coming weeks and months, I’ll be posting free patterns for the projects I like to make for charity – the first will be my generic, family sized, toe-up worsted weight socks, like those pictured here. There will be mittens, hats, basic sweaters and baby clothes. If you feel moved to knit for this or any other charity and are looking for a good pattern to use, leave a comment and I will direct you to existing patterns, or add it to my queue and write one for you!

 If every one of our readers knit just one hat, one pair of socks or mittens, one baby cap or vest, we could warm a small country. Everything you do makes a difference!