AFRICA - Fiber artists can change the life of an AIDS infected child in Africa with just one square at a time.
KasCare has a mission. They want to wrap every African child stricken with AIDS in a loving embrace of warmth to show them that they are loved and they are special. The Knit-a-Square (KAS) program does just that.
What Is KAS
The KAS program encourages knitters and crocheters from around the world to create eight-inch squares from yarn and then mail them to their facility. When the charity receives a box of squares from volunteers, the squares are collected, sorted and sewn into patchwork blankets. Without these warm blankets, these children would be laying on bare, dirt floors or linoleum at night, even in the middle of winter. KAS also accepts handmade hats and other handmade items from fiber art crafters.
The outpouring of squares has been beyond what the charity expected. "We have received nearly 300,000 squares and 40,000 knitted and crocheted items," says Kalai McDonald, KAS administrator. "So many of them have been outstandingly beautiful, it would be far too difficult to pick a favorite!"
People from all corners of the globe are sending in items. For example, sailors on the U.S.S. Enterprise have formed a kitting circle called "be square." The knitting circle recently donated two boxes of squares.
"We are so grateful for the huge outpouring of support from around the world and every square, jumper, hat, scarf and soft toy is appreciated," says McDonald.
The children appreciate the generosity of everyone who donates, as well, according to McDonald. "The children are universally grateful. Regardless of how little they have they always manage a smile and then when they receive their beautiful, colorful blankets and often soft toys, hats and other garments they are always thrilled." See Photos 1 - 3.
How You Can Help
Anyone who creates fiber art can donate to KAS. All you have to do is follow the instructions on the Knit-a-Square website. KAS is the most liberal fiber arts donation charity with their guidelines. Other charities don't allow certain donations, yarns or techniques. KAS is open to just about anything that will keep a child warm.
Here are some other charities that welcome fiber art donations:
- afghans for Afghans provides knitted and crocheted blankets and vests, sweaters, hats, mittens, and socks to needy people in Afghanistan.
- The Adopt-A-Native Elder accepts hand-knit socks, scarves and afghans and distributes them to Dine’ (Navajo) elders.
- The American Red Cross sponsors the Center of Hope project that distributes homemade clothing and other items to the homeless, elderly and the needy.
- Blankets of Hope donates homemade blankets to wounded soldiers and veterans to use on hospital beds, wheelchairs or when being transported.
Charity programs like KAS have made a big difference in thousands of people's lives. Knit-a-Square shows that artists can do more than create works of art. They can use their skill with fibers like yarn to help the less fortunate.
"They (the children) don’t really ask where the items are coming from as they are just so grateful to receive anything at all," says McDonald. "However, they are all told that they are unique, loved and that people from around the world care about them very much as they are the future of South Africa."
Photos courtesy of Alina Bradford