Guideposts Knit for Kids Program Helps 400,000 Kids with Sweaters
A simple idea, implemented a stitch at a time, can produce amazing results for hundreds of thousands of needy children. Guideposts Magazines Knit for Kids Program passed the ten year milestone in 2007 by reaching its goal of more than 400,000 donated hand knitted and crocheted sweater for children around the globe.
Guideposts, originally founded by Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, is a religious inspirational publication which enjoys a circulation of over 2,600,000. In 1997, the seed of the sweater project was planted when Brigitte Weeks, then the Editor-in-Chief of Guideposts Books, wrote an article about making sweaters for children. Ms Weeks related her memories about learning to knit as a child in England. She spoke about a simple pattern she received from her aunt for kids' sweaters. The well-known British charity, Oxfam, promoted the pattern as a way for volunteers to make warm sweaters for refugee children.
The obvious appeal of using an enjoyable craft pastime to benefit a needy child on a one-to-one basis took hold. Guideposts published the knitting pattern, and very soon crocheters clamored for a method of using their craft to turn out little sweaters.
The idea mushroomed to the point where partner charities like World Vision began helping with the distribution. After ten years, sweaters have reached kids from Appalachia to Azerbaijan. About twenty five American states are destinations, with kids in diverse places like Slidell, LA and Harlem delighting in their new sweaters.
Internationally, many African and Latin American countries receive shipments because for malnourished children, nights can be cold even in the tropics. Mongolia, Madagascar, Belarus and Uzbekistan are some of the more than 26 exotic locations that have benefited.
Thousands of volunteers have participated, showing how every small bit can make a world of difference. There are church groups that get together to knit and crochet, as well as individuals of all ages. Craft magazines and yarn suppliers have pitched in to help.
The pattern is simple, a basic T-shaped front and identical back, so it doesn't require complex skills. Many volunteers make their sweaters from scrap yarn, creating stripes with whatever is available, and the staff reports that the children love the wild, colorful striped ones best. Sizes range from two to ten, with the larger ones being most useful.
The program asks that all sweaters be hand made so that the kids can know someone cared enough to make something for them. There is no contact between the maker and the children; it's all anonymous.
Because of the huge outpouring of support for the project, Guidepost created a separate website http://www.knitforkids.org/index.asp just to manage the sweaters. Here you can learn more, see stories about the recipient kids, as well as download the patterns, and find where to send the finished sweaters.