Crafting for Charity- not only is it fun, but a worthwhile experience!

Jun 28, 2008 (Updated Oct 29, 2008)

The Bottom Line If you like to craft, and your kids do too, this is a worthwhile project!

10/2008- due to circumstances beyond their control, I hate to say that Keiki Cards had to shut down their office due to the economy and several grants that ran out- but Love Letters organization is still going strong- I just left the part about Keiki Cards in this review because it was such a great organization.

Do you ever find something on the internet and you think, gee it was just meant to be that I was supposed to see that. That’s what happened to me recently. I was looking for a recipe for paper Mache glue, when I saw this little clickable spot that said ‘crafting for charity.’ So, just to see what it was, I clicked on it. I had never really thought anyone would want or need anything we crafted, so I was really curious.

Turns out there are so many organizations out there that craft for charity. A lot of them are sewing and knitting/crochet groups that make everything from baby booties to cool neck packs for our troops in Iraq. But, there are two organizations I’d like to tell you about that are not only really cool, but something my kids can craft for.

Yep, sure enough- my kids can donate to charity! I mean sure, they have saved can tabs for recycling to donate to Ronald McDonald house, and given stuffed animals to the nursing home and police officers, but this was something they could do completely from scratch.

The first organization I’d like to talk about is Love Letters: Random Acts of Kindness, based in Florida. This organization is non-profit. The whole basis of this place is to create positive, upbeat homemade cards for children with life-threatening illnesses. This is an organization stemmed from Love Letters, run by Linda Bremner.

These cards are done anonymously, and instead of signing your name, you just put ‘from your Love Letters Pen Pal’ or ‘From your Love Letters Friend.” Some of the guidelines for making these cards are that you put each one in an envelope, and only upbeat messages can be on the cards rather than ‘get well’ or ‘hope you feel better.’

Also, don’t feel like you need to make a whole bunch of these- any amount that you give is really appreciated. These cards are mailed and hand delivered to children’s hospitals in Florida.

The next organization I’d like to talk about is on a little bit larger scale than Love Letters, but they do the same type of work. They too are a non profit organization- Keiki Cards, in Hawaii.

Here’s a little bit of Keiki Cards’ info from their website:

‘Keiki Cards' mission is to send out handmade greeting cards to children who have life threatening illnesses. Our goal is give the child support through the mail and to let the child know that someone is thinking of them. Children range in age from infant to eighteen. These cards are sent out every week to approximately 400 children (the number of children can change weekly from the addition of new children to children who have passed) in Hawaii, across the USA, and Canada but Keiki Cards is not limited to sending to these areas. Keiki Cards will also send monthly birthday gifts and holiday gifts. Children are referred to Keiki Cards by friends, family, school teachers, social workers, churches and families also find us on the Internet.’

At Keiki, not only do they send out upbeat message cards, but they also send out birthday cards, Thanksgiving cards, Christmas/Hanukah cards, New Year’s cards, Halloween, Valentines, St. Patrick’s Day, 4th of July, Girls and Boys day cards, and cards for each season as well as going back to school cards. That’s a lot of cards! Can you imagine sending 400 cards a week?

Some of the guidelines for Keiki Cards are the same as Love Letters has. The messages on the cards must be upbeat, and you don’t sign your name or date the cards. Also, don’t feel as though you have to create hundreds of cards, any amount you wish to donate is appreciated. Envelopes are not mandatory with Keiki Cards, but always appreciated.

Also, Keiki Cards likes to have their cards broken down into categories and either rubber banded together. Also, on their site, you can print a little form where you just check boxes on what types of cards you made (what holiday, occasion) what gender they are for, and what age group they are intended for (child or teen). I find these little forms are the easiest way to go. Also, they ask that you tally up how many cards you send as well, so it makes it a little easier when they process your donation for their bookkeeping.

Also, with both of these groups, they have a Volunteer Information sheet that you need to fill out when you send in cards- not only to let them know who sent the cards, but so you can be properly thanked.

Now then, I know in your mind you’re asking- how can I come up with ideas for cards? Well, if you’re a little stumped for ideas, both of the websites have photo galleries of cards sent in, and you can do one like those pictures, or do variations of the sorts.

I have a few ideas to get you started. First off, don’t think this has to be some long, drawn out, fancy card, because it doesn’t- especially if your kids are making it. I find with them simple is best, and then they can come up with their own ideas later on. I use construction paper, as well as thick colored paper, but those scrapbookers out there feel welcome to do these on cardstock. I don’t happen to have any at home, but if I ran across some I would get it just to have some variety in cards.

I asked my kids what kind of cards they want to do, and just go from there. Most of the time we start off with Christmas cards- I know it’s the middle of summer, but Keiki Cards accepts holiday cards any time of the year, not just during the holiday months. They have a mailing chart on their website that tells you when they send out certain cards- to let you know when to get your holiday ones in.

For holiday cards, I got out my set of plastic cookie cutters we use for crafts (yeah one for cooking and one for crafts) and we traced around gingerbread men, trees, and reindeer and colored them in. For the gingerbread men the saying on the inside read “Have a super sweet Christmas!” Or, “Have a cookie- riffic Christmas” or something to that effect. For the boys, we colored the gingerbread man blue, green, or red, and for the girls we colored them pink and purple and put a bow on their heads. Yeah, I know gingerbread people are brown, but I just thought it was cute.

If you have a few other random cookie cutters like we do, you can use the non holiday ones to create just every day, all occasion cards that both organizations use as well. For example, we have a teddy bear one that we trace and put “Sending you a bear hug” and then color them pink, blue, purple, whatever color we want. I will say that Keiki Cards does need teen boy cards desperately, which for me is a little hard to figure out what teen boys like. I did happen to find some car and motorcycle clip art, and I cut them out and glued them on cards.

For very young children, I find that stickers work best. I found a whole bunch of different stickers here at home, and I did all the written work and my youngest put the stickers on. Also, if you happen to have any of those fancy scrapbooking scissors, that’s cool too. I use them to cut around clip art I find, and sometimes to dress up the edges of the actual cards.

At first when we started, I didn’t figure my kids would be into it- I figured my kids would do maybe 20 or so and then be done with it. But, turns out my oldest is really, really into it- especially making Christmas cards- she made around 40 for boys- with a little help from me of course- I’d trace around the cookie cutter and do the writing and then she colors it in. So far we’ve made around 185 cards so far, and our box is no where near full.

Anyway, I’d suggest you check these groups out- If you don’t want to make cards, they do accept other monetary donations as well, but to be honest, I’m kind of into making them myself- nothing like coming up with your own sayings for cards! It’s really fun, and it’s gotten to where this summer we work around 2 hours a day on them, with no complaints! It really eases those “oh I’m soooooo bored” times when it’s too hot to go out and we’re tired of doing indoor stuff. It’s a really creative, relaxing activity for us, and plus it’s a good feeling to know we’re helping someone.

Resources, Email addresses, and whatnot for these groups:

Keiki Cards:

PMB 5-532
4224 Waialae Ave.
Honolulu, Hawaii 96816 (This group can give you card ideas, postage tips, etc.)

808-732-3472 or 808-388-5675

Fax 732-0437

Love Letters: Random Acts of Kindness:

Kaitlyn Chana
Love Letters: Random Cards of Kindness, Inc.
865 N. State Road 434
Altamonte Springs, Fl. 32714

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