Crafters are often called upon in times of disaster. Rarely, in fact, do people think of the importance of those little items like blankets and toys until they are swept away by some unforeseen tragic event. We who craft for charity often find ourselves pulling together to answer the heart wrenching call to service by those who have lost everything. Such is the case, right now, in West Virginia as devastating rains have killed 24 people. Outreach to Appalachia is a group on Ravelry serving poverty stricken regions of West Virginia. Along with Appalachian Outreach Inc, a partner organization, "O2A" has called on crafters to do their bit to help those affected current flooding situation.
My own husband grew up not far from the border with West Virginia and has family and close friends who grew up in West Virginia or are still living in the state. West Virginia is, while beautiful and wild, also some of the most poverty stricken real estate in the USA. "Fifty years after the war on poverty began, its anniversary is being observed with academic conferences and ideological sparring — often focused, explicitly or implicitly, on the “culture” of poor urban residents. Almost forgotten is how many ways poverty plays out in America, and how much long-term poverty is a rural problem." ~Gabriel I have very good friends living in West Virginia efforting to better education and give children a chance at a more stable future. This outreach into Appalachia is a very important part of letting residents there know they are not forgotten.
Outreach to Appalachia or "O2A" from here on, is not an arm of Appalachian Outreach Inc or "AOI" the group does individually send packages to AOI where it is distributed. AOI is a faith based organization you can read it's mission statement here. O2A collects just about everything you could imagine for children and adults including toys. One of their ongoing collection drives for this year is Book and Blanket such a super cute idea "Match a book with a blanket and spread some smiles!Let’s run this campaign through the end of September." What a fun! Its not only fun but its also very practical we all know that a great book can spark a child's lively imagination. The teacher in me loves this project :)
Of course O2A is about meeting the very basic needs of communities in Appalachia. Newborn babies and their parents need a boost as they leave the hospital to go home. By taking a diaper bag or small plastic laundry basket and filling it with appropriate items, parents can have the help they need to get off to a good start with their new arrival. Rose of Appalachia Outreach puts together about 600 baskets per year. Obviously this is a tremendously important project for new parents. Many of whom need a little encouragement to start their tiny one off in the world properly. I remember what it was like to get the little basket full of gifts from the hospital when my babies were born. To have someone think of all the little things I had not in my nesting efforts. It gave me added confidence. New parents in areas where poverty is a way of life will certainly appreciate all that crafters do to make their infant more comfortable.
Though often we think of West Virginia as a place of warm climate it does get quite cold in the winter so winter warm items are necessary hats and mittens, scarves and shawls. All are gladly accepted by "Rose" who is coordinator of the efforts through AOI. There are no set patterns but easy care materials are appreciated. The group attaches tags to the items to let the recipient know what the item is made of and who created it. With folks losing so much to flooding it's vital that crafters pitch in to do what they can for the people of West Virginia.
Poverty is, in point of fact, everywhere in the USA including and sometimes especially in rural areas. However, right now at this point in time West Virginia needs our help to overcome this historic flooding. If we as crafters can pull together to bring hope to a region rocked by disaster, it would be an amazing show of support. A handmade box of joy is sometimes the nudge people need to keep moving forward.
**Opinions expressed on blogs about which I write are the opinion of the blog authors and DO NOT necessarily reflect my own opinion.