Friday, January 17, 2014

DIY Scarves for Homeless Stand Down

Hey there, Recon-Artists!

Are you an avid crafter, but don't have any more space or use for your crafts? You've probably tried selling them, and giving them away as gifts, but I've got something to add to that list of potential--Donating to the homeless. Every year, my Unitarian Universalist church helps make personal care packages and scarves for the homeless of Cleveland, for an event called Homeless Stand Down. At this event, people receive care packages containing hygiene items, clothing, some have bus tickets for their transportation to and from the event, and they can also receive services like haircuts and dental check-ups from participating professionals volunteering their time. Learn more about Homeless Stand Down by clicking here.

What I did this year, as I did last year, was help make scarves. A fabric company donates pre-cut lengths of fleece, which we then cut fringe into the ends of, roll up and secure with a rubber band, and add a tag with what they refer to as "words of understanding." I think of them as encouragement or friendship.

The first scarf I made this year, and its tag.
Last year, I braided the fringe on my scarves. I started doing that again this year, and a few people at my church noticed and decided they wanted to do that, too. It didn't take long, and it made the scarves just a little more special. So I thought, what else can I do that is easy and fun, and will add a little touch of personality to my scarves? It came to me immediately--T-shirt reconstruction! So I set out with my scissors and my lengths of fleece to make four dual-colored Cut & Tie scarves. Watch my tutorial video for the scarves here.

50 finished scarves in each of these boxes.

When I got to church last Sunday, I noticed bags of scarves that people had taken home to make were sitting outside the sanctuary. I picked them all up and carried them in, and set to counting them and putting them in the boxes for transport. I fit 50 scarves each in two boxes and then went onto the next. Some people had made the scarves and not added tags--some people just don't like writing, but I LOVE this part!--so another woman and I went about making a bunch of extra tags to add to the scarves other people had made.

We wrote messages such as "Wear in Peace" (I wrote that on a lot of mine), "You are special! =)," "You are appreciated," and the occasional "Don't Forget To Be Awesome" from me. Later on, I got more creative with some and wrote things like "All you need is love (and maybe a good scarf)."
I love adding messages to the tags!

I did this all through service that day. I listened to the readings and sang along with the hymns I had memorized, but mostly I wrote messages to people I may never meet, just hoping that each one would get to the person who needed it most. Someone needed to hear "Thank you for everything you do," and someone else needed to hear "You are such a blessing." I rolled up scarves for people and helped newcomers figure out what to do--It's a very easy project to pick up!


My patchwork scrap scarf
For one of the scarves, I took the small pieces of fabric that are leftover from the machine pre-cut and made a patchwork scarf. Before, these small pieces had been being thrown away or given to some of the other girls for their own home crafting purposes, but I thought it would be cool to make one scarf out of as many pieces as I could find. So, I cut & tied together pieces of grey, blue, fuschia, and grey again. Whoever gets this scarf is going to be STYLIN'! And more importantly, warm.


By the end of service, I had boxed up 163 scarves in three boxes, and piled 200 more on the tables. I stayed long after service ended making nine more scarves to round out the last hundred--I just couldn't leave it a few short! And when it got to that point, and this was supposed to be our last day to make scarves, I went into speed-mode. I realized that while taking extra time with the scarves is really nice, and I know that people will love them, the more important thing here WAS actually quantity. Do I want ten people to have really cool scarves, or do I ALSO want fifty MORE people to have scarves at all? Scarves it was. So I made four more dual-colored cut & tie scarves (I can do them relatively quickly, so I did bust out a few moer) but then cut my last five as plain as can be, with simple fringe. I made sure to write something extra nice on the tags, and at least I knew that five more people would be able to keep a little warmer this year.

DFTBA: Don't Forget To Be Awesome!
Thanks for reading, and if you're a resident of Nerdfighteria, give me a nod in the comments!

DFTBA, Blessed Be, and until next time,
Happy Snipping!