Social Media Love Made Tangible

Photo by Blankies for Boston

In 2007, back when Livejournal was still my favorite online platform, I was running an organization called Homespun Helpers. The group existed solely in the online world, although in some cases some of our members truly befriended each other, and got to craft together. Our goal each year was to make and donate 3,000 items to charity. Any charitable cause and any handmade item was counted.

It was during this time that the tragic shootings at Virginia Tech happened. Because I was tuned in to the crafting world, I heard about a person who was collecting Hokie-colored orange and burgundy squares that would be sewn into blankets for the families of the victims. Another organization started collecting scarves for a cause that one of the victims had held dear.

If you have never crafted for charity, it is hard to explain how rewarding the work can be. Even though you very very seldom meet the people who will receive your items, and even though you know that in the end these items will not undo the tragedy, it’s a tangible way to send your love and care to people affected by all of these senseless tragedies happening in our world.

Homespun Helpers Returns

This year I re-started Homespun Helpers. As I was beginning to get the group together in December, we heard about the shootings in Sandy Hook. An amazing woman named Jeanne Maligioglio promptly started a project called Scarves for Sandy Hook on Facebook. Jeanne received thousands of scarves not only from almost every single state, but even from overseas. Kids, parents, faculty members, and first responders all were recipients of the green and white scarves that poured in.

When the Boston Marathon bombings happened, almost exactly 4 months after the Sandy Hook tragedy, it was easy to feel like all good was just falling out the bottom of the world. I knew a lot of people were not just sad anymore. People were angry.

I posed the question to my fellow crafters in Homespun Helpers. What could we do? Was anybody doing anything in the wake of this latest tragedy? We looked around, and couldn’t find anything easy to donate to, at least not in a crafty way. A conversation sprang up. Maybe we could start something. Maybe we could be the magnet that would draw crafters together to show love and care to Boston.

That is how Blankies for Boston was born.

Too Many Amazing Stories to Count

If you are feeling down about the world or are feeling like social media can’t really support social good, I encourage you to check out what is happening on this page. I encourage you to watch the posts that our point person, Rebecca Lane, makes almost every day. She posts pictures of the boxes that are taking over her P.O. box and her house. She shares pictures of blankies that are being distributed to nurses who were at the hospital the day of the bombing. She shares stories of family members of the victims getting blankies. She shares stories of people who have heard about the effort from other people, and she has shared stories of people wondering how they can get involved.

I could tell you about people who have already made more than ten 36×36 blankies. I could tell you about the fliers our members have made that can be posted in local hang-outs. I could tell you how many people have commented on the page noticing that something really special is going on there.

So far, Blankies for Boston has collected just under 100 blankets. The goal is to have made and distributed 1,000 by June 14th, Flag Day, 7 months after the Sandy Hook shooting, just a couple of months after the Boston Marathon bombing.

The support that the people on the page give each other is woven into the blankies you see posted every day by the dozen. Visiting the page, reading the stories, and seeing the time and effort people are investing towards this cause is enough even to make the Grinch’s heart grow two sizes too big.

Get Involved

If you want to get involved, Blankies for Boston is asking for 36×36 blankies in red, white, and blue. The shipping address is on the page. If you want to support the cause but can’t craft, one of the best things you can do is to join the page and help spread the word. If you want to do more, there are people looking for donations of yarn who could use your help.

It is an honor to be a part of this cause, though Jeanne, Rebecca, and Susan Baranoff have done a thousand times more than I have. They are women who are forces of nature.

Join us in this effort to make social media “likes” into real, tangible love and care. It’s powerful stuff.