Sunday, October 07, 2007

The Cheerful Giver

No matter what our spiritual background, the concept of charity is a consistent theme for most of us. We recognize that there will always be some in our world who need our help, and many of us enjoy being able to help others out in some way. In my case, I donate in my own spiritual settings and as a child I enjoyed putting my coins into the "mite" box once a year, knowing that my mite (what the heck is a mite, anyway?) would go to help someone else. (We grew up quite poor and even as a child I recognized that we were lucky compared to others. That's what growing up in a big city like DC will do for you.) And, of course, I carried those ubiquitous Unicef cartons around at Halloween time. It gives us a good feeling to be able to help our fellow humans out. Many of us extend these charitable feelings to our pets by making donations to the local shelter or to national groups.

The knitting community is an especially generous group of people. The Yarn Harlot has raised thousands of dollars for Doctors Without Borders through Knitters Without Borders. Many support the Heifer Project. And recently many people have made personal donations to help a well known knitting designer with some personal needs created by a family health crisis. Groups like the one my sister is involved with at her church in Sedona make helmet liners and prayer shawls. All worthy causes.

For myself, I have a few pet (no pun intended) groups that I consistently knit for: Children in Common and the Helmet Liner Project. The Atlanta Knitting Guild supports a number of charities and the one I'm mostly closely involved with is the Atlanta Day Shelter for Women and Children, for which I'm the liaison for donations of clothing, household goods, etc. But we also knit for preemies, make stoma covers for laryngectomy patients, dress trauma bears for children in distress, etc., and I usually try to participate in those efforts, although sporadically. (My own efforts usually involve children--I can't stand the thought of a child in need--though I love the helmet liner project because it allows me to support our soldiers in the Middle East, while not always supporting the reason they're there.)

So why, oh why, please tell me why, am I ALWAYS surprised by finding myself up against a deadline for one of these groups? Inevitably, I suddenly realize that one group or another has set a deadline or a goal or an objective and I haven't done SQUAT. This means that I move from feeling pretty good about myself to feeling like a total dweeb with no redeeming qualities at all because I'm not ready. And the deal is, you're not just sending off a check, or clicking on Paypal--you actually have to KNIT something. There's actual action required.

So here I am again, in a state of frantic charitable knitting, knitting against a deadline, pushing myself, and hating the feeling of scrambling (again) to do the right thing.

Now there are people, and I know several, who ONLY do charity knitting. They knit pet beds for shelters or preemie hats or Hansen bandages and never knit a thing for themselves or their families. More power to them, but Mother Teresa I'm not, and I can't even feel guilty about that. Knitting for charity is an important part of my life, but it's a part, not the whole. I knit a variety of things, and that's the way that goes.

Anyway, for today I'm scrambling to get a pair of mittens off to Afghans for Afghans. Now, I remember (vaguely) hearing that AFA's big Fall push had a deadline sometime soon. That deadline now seems to be, and probably always has been, this coming Friday. And I've done nothing. And they're struggling to meet their goal of 80 cartons of knitted wool garments shipped before the debilitating winter. No time to make a big contribution--just rip off those mittens and get them in the mail. Hurry, hurry, hurry.

So three questions come to mind:

(1) Does it really matter? Will my one lonely pair of green mittens (made from some wonderful mallard green Naturespun) really make a dent in those 80 cartons? Will it make any difference at all if I don't make them?

(2) Is the Karma associated with doing something good for someone else destroyed by my not-mindful-at-all-because-I'm-so-frantic-for-heaven's-sake feelings of desperation and rushing?

(3) What the heck am I doing writing a blog when I could be knitting?


Florence said...

My own feelings (and I've expressed this on our SnB list before) is that the money spent on expensive yarn could be spent on purchasing warm blankets, etc. for these people in need. More people will care whether they have a blanket or not, then whether it was hand-knit. The reason why people knit charitably is because they enjoy it. If you're not enjoying it and it just feels like a lot of work, then the purpose of charitable knitting is defeated.

Diana T. said...

My thoughts on your three questions:
1.Of course they make a dent.You know that it is not just one person, but many, who do their small part and together fill the need.(sorry, that sounds a bit preachy as well as being one of my signature run-on sentences, yeesh.)
2.I don't know from Karma. All I know is that the recipients will love the gift and the care that went into it, not care that it was knit in a last minute flurry. Personally, that's how I approach most of my deadlines, the sneaky bast....I mean things, sneaky things!
3. It is always wise to take short breaks when knitting. You return refreshed and with greater speed and vigor.Besides, you are also providing a charitable gift to those who read your blog.

Take care and give yourself a break (she says as she looks guiltily at the unfinished orphan scarf laying reproachfully on top of the knitting basket).