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Crafting for Good

For Beginner Crafters:

Create care packages for the needy. Stuff a shirt full of personal care items to give to a shelter, or donate a box of old books. Don’t forget those on active military duty; a package sent abroad will bring smiles to soldiers’ faces—and reminders of home. Include books, toiletries, or games like dice or a Frisbee.

Assemble kits for health and safety. Get prepped for the unexpected (or the next power outage) with an Emergency Supply kit, complete with checklists, emergency contacts and plastic bags for keeping vital documents dry. Make one for yourself first, then distribute some to neighbors and friends so they can be prepared, too.

Get the kids involved. Pick up some inexpensive picture frames and glue from the craft store and have your grandchildren decorate them with whatever’s around the house—seashells, macaroni, non-toxic paint, glitter, stickers—anything! When they’re done, fill the frames with family photos, scenic landscapes or even handwritten notes. Watch everyone get happy when they give their crafts to a relative or friend. And check out these other ideas for crafting with kids as well.

Porcelain needn’t be pricey. Buy some inexpensive cup or plate sets (try the dollar store) and porcelain markers (from your nearest craft store). Then decorate dinnerware with your own colorful illustrations.

For intermediate crafters:

Give the gift that keeps on growing. Decorate inexpensive terracotta pots with ceramic paint, then fill them with potting soil and a seed packet. You can give these eco-friendly crafts to neighbors and friends—it’s a great way to say thanks, introduce yourself, or teach children about gardening. All they’ll have to do is add water.

Create memories. On your next visit to a senior center, sit with a resident and help them scrapbook their memories. They’ll bring the photos, but you’ll come bearing the supplies: an album, scissors and tape, photo corners, backgrounds, markers and stickers. Ask what they’d like to document, from one event to a whole decade’s worth of stories, and then help them organize it all in a creative, attractive way. Spiff up your space. Help warm up an elderly friend’s home or room in an assisted living facility with some homemade décor. Try decorating a lampshade with buttons and ribbons or crafting a wall corkboard with old wine bottle corks. If your friend likes wine, have a glass together while you find a place to put your creation.

Make your own play dough. Whether age 8 or 80, who doesn’t like playing with that colorful, squishy dough? There are plenty of recipes on how to make your own, from easy to more advanced. Then, invite nearby kids over for some play dough fun. It’s also a great activity to take to a senior center to get residents interactive. Have fun with it: Who can mold the most colorful creation? Or ask everyone to craft their favorite animal.

For advanced crafters:

Create door wreaths for any season. The fun thing about wreaths is that they can be made out of almost anything—not just evergreens and hollies. Have fun with wreaths made from common household items like clothes hangers, flowers, candy or anything else you can imagine. Ask older friends around the neighborhood or those in need of some sprucing up if you can hang it on their door.

Make your own soap. If you’ve mastered the easy stuff, go from crafting to creating. Check out these recipes and watch some video tutorials online, then have a go at making homemade soap with your own signature scent and shape. If you need to get your toes sudsy first, try dressing up a bar you already have. Either way, they’ll make great gifts.

Bring crafts to the table. Table décor is a great way to make a dinner table more welcoming. Try creating a fruit or floral centerpiece. After you’re finished, give them to a nursing home or a nearby family to brighten their dining room. Or try it out on your own table—then invite neighbors who may live alone to a nice meal.

Sew the good. Savvy at stitching? You’d be surprised how many people would be grateful for your skill. You can join larger service projects, like sewing garments for those in need or teaching sewing camps to kids. Or offer your skills to neighbors and friends—mend a dress, hem a pant leg or patch a hole in upholstery—helping them save time and money

Once you try one (or more!) of these ideas, snap a photo and post it to our Pinterest page. And don’t forget to tell us how you used your volunteer time to Craft the Good. If you’re already crafting projects for good—or want to find others to craft with—visit Create the Good to double the impact in your area.

Charities Accept Handmade Goods! Whether you quilt, sew, crochet, knit, glue or tape, your creations can help others across the country. If you’re looking for somewhere to share your good creations, here’s a list of charities that accept handmade items!

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