When we traveled to China to meet our daughter in 2002, we were also permitted to travel to the orphanage that had overseen her care from the time she was three days old until we adopted her at 10 months. The American interpreter who had been to many orphanages throughout China, said of this particular orphanage, “I’ve been better and I’ve seen worse.” To me the children appeared well-cared for but seven years later I still wish I had been able to do something more personal and direct-to-the-children than writing a check to the orphanage. We have sent them boxes of art supplies, made donations to various charities that work to improve the conditions in Chinese orphanages and an employee at Mrs. Grossman’s Sticker Company factory store once tearfully and generously gave me her annual allotment of free stickers when I explained to her why I was buying so many stickers, so I could send a huge box of stickers to the orphanage. But for the past few years I haven’t known what else I could do.
My answer came through the wonderful charity-knitting group I joined this year. One of the women in the group told me about Warm Woolies, an organization that sends hand-knitted wool garments to orphanages around the world. They have free patterns that you can use for the donations and because the patterns are knit with double strands on 10 ½ needles in the round, they knit up very quickly. Above is my very first Warm Woolies vest, made with Lion Brand 100% wool bought for $2.50/skein at Michael’s on sale. It took about three skeins to complete the vest. So given that this vest will probably be handed down from child to child, that $7.50 and my time feel really well-spent. Mostly it feels as though I’m fulfilling a small part of the silent promise I made to those children I met at that orphanage so many years ago. I promised that I would do what I could to make the lives of orphans better. It’s that great Mother Theresa quote I love: “In this life we cannot do great things. We can only do small things with great love.” I will never solve the Israel-Palestine land issue but I can knit a vest in the evenings for an orphan. Small things with great love I can do.
Now Warm Woolies is teaming up with Land’s End to make garments for homeless families on tribal reservations. Land’s End will donate 7-10 lbs of yarn to a group if they promise to knit and ship the garments by Dec. Our group found out about this project through the Warm Woolies July newsletter which does not appear on the website, so contact Warm Woolies for more information. The offer is limited to the first 150 groups to apply. Our group is anxiously awaiting our allotment of yarn next month. Between getting our daughter back to school, making quilts and finishing a book, I’m going to try to knit a few things to contribute to our group’s box of donations. By December, it will put all of my other holiday preparations into a really healthy perspective. Stay tuned and I’ll post my progress.