Ever since I made a batch of amigurumi toys for a charity drive this past summer, my love for making stuffed toys (aka softies aka amigurumi) was refueled, and I started wondering about how to use this to help children locally. Once issue, however, is it is really just me here to do it. While I do advice a college craft club, the majority of our members are not advanced enough to make toys. We start with chain stitch and move up to simple projects like snuggles for local animal shelters, cotton wash cloths, or squares that I somehow have to connect together to make baby blankets. So, yes, squares basically.
Since our students tend to come and go and, obviously, graduate, that means we have new members almost every semester, so that rolls us back to the chain stitch and more squares. Unless we manage to get a group that already has some crochet basics, this cycle repeats itself. And I’m fine with that. One of the reasons I started the club was to teach crafting, not just help charities. So as members come and go, we are able to teach more people. It is all good.
Back to me and the toys - I subscribe to the Fresh Stitches blog, and Stacy recently posted about a toy drive organized by the Crochet Guide of America to send amigurumis to the children of Newton, Connecticut. Of course, I jumped on board right away. Then I found out about another amazing toy drive for these children called 600 Monsters Strong, whose initial idea was to make and donate 600 monster toys to the children of Newton. Since these both started, news agencies have reported about the outpouring of love for the residents of Newton. 600 Monsters Strong has been featured in the Huffington Post as well as a few other outlets. I have also seen this on TV news were stuffed toys, Christmas trees, wreaths, free coffee, you name it has been donated to those living in and around this small town.
All this goodness and love, however, seemed to turn almost into a problem as organizers, such as those who started the 600 Monsters Strong drive, realized the generosity was maybe going to be too much. Would the toys even be needed by Newton children now? Was there too much love? Luckily, according to the information provided on various posts on the group’s Ravelry board and Facebook page, not only are they pretty sure that they will get the monster toys to the children of Newton, but the love is spreading and spilling over. They are now working towards becoming a non-profit group and finding a way to continue the toy love to other children in need of something to snuggle and comfort them.
Like many in the crafting community, I am making toys now with the idea that I may send them into one of these groups; however, it has also started my wheels turning again as I look at my own community and realize that there are groups here that would probably benefit from hand-made toy donations. For example, there is a women’s shelter that my club has made wash cloths for (Miss Inc), and when I spoke with the director one time and asked her what they needed, she said, “Everything.” The residents normally come to the shelter with nothing but the clothes on their backs, and most are women with young children, ah … children (my brain tells me) who might like a hand-made toy monster or teddy bear to hold.
Yes, I’m still concerned about the fact that I am one person and can only make so much, and of course, I also feel obligated to help other donation drives for various groups that I am active with, but for now, I am just going to keep making toys here and there without any kind of deadline in mind. When I get a large enough collection, then I can deliver them to the shelter. If I find out crafters along the way to help, that is great, but otherwise, I’ll just keep making the toys.