As I've mentioned before, I'm a big fan of making items for charity. While I'm making them, I like to imagine the people (or animals) who'll be getting the items; I feel like it helps me make them with more love and care. I was introduced to my very first charity project through a national activity that my fraternity did. It was for Warm Up America, a project that collects knitted or crocheted rectangles to make into blankets. These blankets are then donated to abuse victims or families who have gone through some form of traumatic loss, such as a house fire. All donations are given to those in need in the United States, so it's a great way to do something for the ones in need at home.
I especially love this project because it has so few limitations. You can knit or crochet with any yarn, in any pattern; the rectangles only need to be 5" by 7". Therefore, this is a great project for beginners learning to knit or crochet, for anyone who wants to try out a new stitch, or for anyone trying to get rid of that scrap yarn! The only request is that if the yarn is made from a fabric that requires special handling (100% cotton, wool, etc) that you send a note stating so and making sure that washing instructions are included so that the recipient's blanket does not get accidentally ruined. Warm Up America accepts donations of individual rectangles, rows of seven rectangles stitched together, or entire blankets of seven rows by seven columns.
I know, I know- you're thinking "I can't do this, my rectangles will look awful, my stitches aren't perfect, etc etc." Warm Up America doesn't care! They want their blankets to be representative of the multitude of people who have contributed- that's why they love the different colored rectangles and even the imperfect ones! You're saying "But I don't have time!" A rectangle takes one hour- easy to do while watching tv or on a car trip! You're saying "But I have no clue how to do the rectangle!" Warm Up America has patterns for both knitting and crocheting on their website. Any more excuses?
This is an extremely popular charity- it has collection boxes in various crafts stores, has clubs throughout the US, and has been featured in several craft books. I very highly recommend them and hope to hear all about the beautiful rectangles people have sent in!
Please see http://www.craftyarncouncil.com/warmup.html for more information, including where to send donations. You can also follow them on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/WarmUpAmerica?sk=wall
This is the blanket that my Honors Program in college did as a service project one year.
Some of my rectangles that are waiting to be sent out. See- mine aren't perfect and I've been crocheting for years! Warm Up America doesn't care about perfection- they care about heart!