Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Knitting for charity

Last fall I was feeling particularly lost, and I had this insatiable desire to knit for charity.  I thought long and hard about why and how best to do it.

The why is easy:  I often feel like the remedy to feeling badly about yourself lies in being kind to other people, reaching out to other people, giving to people.  Look, I'm not Mother Theresa, and I don't know if there's any science behind it, but I do feel like happiness comes from generosity.  However much you have, someone has less.  However bad you feel, someone feels worse.  And also, think about how great it is to receive a gift.  Now, imagine getting a gift from someone you don't know.  Holy crap!  How wonderful could that feel to think that someone out there is sending you love?  Right??  The thing is, we could all easily be that person giving to someone else.  And the universe gives you back what you give it.

I don't know.  It's just a theory.

And now the how.  First, I seriously considered knitting hats as fast as I could, always keeping a few on me at a time, and passing them out to people on the street, or subway platform, or train, if I thought they needed them.  However, this idea was pretty quickly quashed when I thought about myself offering hats to combative, rambling drunkards and startling sleeping people in doorways by pushing knitted hats into their faces.  All the scenarios I could imagine were sketchy at best.

Also - how would a gift like that be received?  What am I saying by marching up to someone and giving them a hat?  Am I zeroing in on hobos? What if I'm mistaken and someone gets really offended?

I'm not sure if "hobo" is technically a derogatory term, but I love it and I use it even if it is somewhat out of fashion.  The difference between a "bum" and a "hobo," to the best of my understanding, is that a bum is a bit of a layabout and a hobo is a wandering worker of sorts.  I like to give people the benefit of the doubt.  Also, I like the idea that "hobo" comes from the shortening of "homeward bound."  I like that notion.  Oh my, I've gotten off track, haven't I?

SO.  Back to the story.  I searched and searched for charities that both accepted knitted goods as donations and that I felt a desire to reach out to in some way.

After a lot of searching, I settled on Threads Of Compassion.  They are a Chicago-based charity network whose primary focus is providing comfort for victims of sexual abuse.  Scarves are collected (many times made by fellow....victims?....survivors?.....) and are given to women at rape crisis and trauma centers.  It's an attempt to reach out to someone and provide comfort, letting someone know that she is not alone and that there are many others who've been in her spot and made it through.

So.  I made three.  One in the name of my mother.  One for my best childhood friend.  And, yes, one for me.

I hate the term sexual abuse "survivor" and I dislike "victim" just as much.  I don't feel like either of those things.  But if others gain strength by applying those terms to themselves, then that's great, and I support that.  I acknowledge that when I was a girl a man did a very bad thing to me.  And it fucked up a whole bunch of my life.  But I'm not ashamed, and it wasn't my fault.  And if I can give a little bit of comfort to someone else who just had their world turned upside down in this way, well, hell.....who cares what you call it?  

In case you're curious, these scarves were done in a basic "honeycomb" pattern.

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