Knitting for charity has a long and storied history. Pinterest is filled with posters like the one below:

The American Red Cross asked Americans to knit for charity

During wars, people who remained home were encouraged to knit their bit. Soldiers needed socks, sweaters, hats, and scarves. Today, soldiers still need their supplies and the world of charitable knitting has expanded.

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The list below includes charities for soldiers, sick children, abused women, animals, and more. It’s the holiday season and that means it’s time to give (though almost all of the charities accept year round). What better excuse is there?

1. Binky Patrol

Binky Patrol asks for homemade and easily washable blankets for children in hospitals, homeless shelters, and foster care. The blankets can range from the small (3′ x 3′) to the large (twin bed sized).

2. Christmas at Sea

Christmas at Sea provides handmade garments to mariners away from their families. They ask that the garments are easy to wash, in darker colors, and free of pom-poms, tassels, or fringes (because they pose a safety hazard!). They accept garments all year round.

3. Feel Better Friends

Feel Better Friends collect dolls to send to sick children. Frankly, this is one of the most involved charities I’ve seen: You have to pass a test before becoming an official member: 1) Prospective volunteers join their Facebook group so they can gain access to the official pattern for the doll and wig pattern; 2) they create a doll for a test child they know and show it to the group; and 3) once they’re approved, they can become an official volunteer and create dolls for the charity.

4. Halos of Hope

Halos of Hope donaters provide hats, scarves, and other handmade items to cancer patients. They have several local chapters that accept donations on behalf of the larger organization.

5. Handmade Especially for You

Handmade Especially for You collects scarves for abused women and distribute them through shelters. They provide yarn for free to their volunteers, but that also means they’re in need of yarn donations.

6. Hat Box Foundation

Hat Box Foundation collects and distributes handmade hats to cancer patients. Because many of the patients have no hair, they ask that hats are made out of cotton or acrylic soft yarns–nothing itchy or uncomfortable.

7. Knit a Square

If making a full blanket or sweater seems too much, Knit a Square accepts 8″ x 8″ squares. They combine these squares into blankets for their vulnerable or orphaned children. They also accept hats, handwarmers, and toys.

8. Knit for Kids

Knit for Kids sends your handmade goods to children living in poverty all around the world. Your hats, scarves, and sweaters keep those kids warm. The charity provides patterns to pick from, collects, and distributes the items.

9. Knit Your Bit

For Knit Your Bit, the National World War II Museum collects scarves and then distributes them to VA Centers and veterans organizations as a way to honor WWII veterans. They have some really awesome example patterns on the site as well.

10. Knots of Love

Knots of Love asks that knitters and crocheters donate caps and blankets for cancer patients, burn victims, or babies in the neonatal unit. The caps must meet specific criteria, including approved yarns.

11. Mother Bear Project

Volunteers for the Mother Bear Project knit up handmade bears to be sent to children affected by HIV or AIDS in emerging nations. All bears are supposed to be created based on a pattern that you can to purchase on the site.

12. Operation Gratitude

Operation Graditude sends care packages to “deployed troops, veterans, wounded warriors, and new recruits” and are currently in need of hand-made scarves. They also accept other handmade goods (like paracord bracelets) and toys like Beanie Babies. I’ve donated to Operation Gratitude two years in a row now. It’s a great charity.

13. Precious Pals Program

Knitters/crocheters purchase a bear or other stuffed animal, make them an outfit (some patterns are provided on the website), and then send them in to the Knitting Guild Association. The outfitted bears are then sent to police stations around the nation to be given out to children in crisis.

14. Project Linus

Project Linus calls its volunteers “blanketeers” and their creations go to children who are ill, traumatized, or otherwise in need of care and security. They accept more than just knitted or crocheted blankets.

15. The Snuggles Project

The Snuggles Project collects blankets (“Snuggles”) and distributes them to animal shelters to help calm animals and encourage prospective families to stay longer and find an animal they would like to adopt.

16. Warm Up America!

Warm Up America! accepts “7”x 9″ knit/crochet sections, finished afghans and accessories year-round” but they keep their Current Needs page updated with services and charities that specifically need your help.

17. Local Charities

If you want to help more locally, Lion Brand Yarns has a charity finder (and if you have started a charity, registration is free!). You can also call hospitals, shelters, or VA Centers to see what is needed locally.

Or, if you want to be guerrilla about it, there is a growing trend of hanging scarves and hats outside, along with notes that the item is not lost. This is, personally, my favorite version of yarn bombing.

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