There’s no gift like one made by hand.
That sentiment inspired Fairfax County Public Library’s new “Knitting for Charity” initiative, a pilot project launching next week that encourages community members to craft winter hats for those who will need warm clothes as temperatures drop.
“We were thinking about some type of community-driven project, and [my programming assistant] felt that this was taking giving to the next level, because we are asking people to spend time creating something that other people will use,” FCPL Program and Educational Services Director Renee Edwards said.
Starting on Monday (Sept. 12), the City of Fairfax, Chantilly, Tysons-Pimmit, Patrick Henry and John Marshall libraries will have a limited supply of yarn available for pick-up. The bags will also contain a sewing label and instructions.
However, anyone with yarn can participate. The yarn must be new, washable, and made out of wool/wool-blend or 100% acrylic, according to the FCPL website, which says to specifically avoid angora or mohair yarn since people may be allergic.
Donations will be accepted at those five libraries until 6 p.m. on Nov. 18. All of the hats will go to the nonprofit Shelter House, which provides crisis intervention, permanent and emergency housing, and other services for families experiencing homelessness and victims of domestic violence.
Since it’s a new initiative, FCPL wanted to start small, but when administrators contacted each library branch to gauge its interest in serving as a collection site, “the response was tremendous,” Edwards says.
“We looked at all of the branches that responded positively, looked at where they were located geographically on the county map, and then we chose,” she told FFXnow. “If this initiative is successful, the hope is that next year, we would expand it.”
Edwards says the initiative’s name is intentionally broad so it can evolve going forward. Though the current focus is on hats, other clothing items like scarves and mittens will be accepted too, as long as everything is hand-knit.
Reflecting the modern expectation of libraries as providers of public resources beyond books, Knitting for Charity is a continuation of FCPL’s efforts to address a variety of community needs, whether through donation drives, classes that teach technology skills, or its promise of an escape from the summer heat.
“We always are looking for events and initiatives that continually demonstrate to our community that we are more than just books,” Edwards said. “Not that we don’t have book discussions and author events and story times — that’s our bread and butter — but we also take it a step further, and we do a lot of other different programs and initiatives for our community members.”
Photo via Margarida Afonso/Unsplash
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