Painters, crafters, fabric and yarn artists, and other creative types are able to take their medium of choice and turn them into beautiful and functional works. If you have a particular craft or artistic discipline you love—and let’s face it, most of us have something we love to do—let it do good. From donating your work to using your talent to bring joy to others, here are six ways you can use your creativity to give back.
Want to add a personal touch? Join Soldiers’ Angels’ Sewing and Craft Team, which knits, sews, crochets, and quilts gifts for military members, like lap blankets for veterans in wheelchairs. The team also has a “baby brigade” team which creates baby blankets, booties, and other handmade items for baby showers for expecting military spouses. Don’t sew? That’s okay—they have a no-sew blanket project, too. The organization has a number of other ways volunteers can support active-duty military, wounded warriors, military families, and veterans as well.
Other ways to help include donating 7x9-inch, crocheted and knitted rectangles to be joined and assembled into crocheted blankets. Or make security blankets for kids battling HIV, drug abuse, child abuse, or chronic and terminal illnesses. Knots of Love lets you warm the heads and hearts of cancer patients by knitting and delivering a handmade cap.
Create a great greeting
If you paint, draw, or work with collage materials, try creating cards for organizations like Cards for Hospitalized Kids and Stay Gold, which have programs with guidelines online. Or simply call local hospitals, nursing homes, or veteran groups to find out how you can make and send cards to people who are lonely or isolated. This is also a great opportunity to get kids involved.
Help shelter pets play
If you like new craft projects, why not make toys for shelter pets? Check out this Create the Good® service project that shows you how to make pet toys from items you find around the house. Make several and donate them to a local animal shelter or rescue.
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.
Give the gift of memories and warmth
Make plans to visit a senior center to help a resident 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.
Are you great at home décor? You can 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. 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.
Make something to donate
From wreaths to soap to jewelry, many people like to make beautiful, useful things. For example, you can make a wreath out of almost anything—not just evergreens and hollies. Common household items like clothes hangers, flowers, candy, or anything else you can imagine, and give it to a friend to hang on their door. Or how about making soap? 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. Then, consider donating your creations to your favorite nonprofit for a fundraiser, gift to donors, resell in a thrift store, or to benefit the organization in some other way.
Find more ways to flex your artistic muscle as a volunteer. Search with keyword “crafts.”