Last month I had the opportunity to research and write a Crochet Today blog post about the VA Craft and Crochet Team that is part of the Soldiers’ Angels veterans charity. I was honored to be contacted afterwards by the team leader of the group, Deb, who reached out to say thanks for the support and to tell me a little bit more about the organization. I wanted to share with you what she shared with me.
The Beginning of the VA Craft and Crochet Team
The VA Crochet and Craft Team was started in March 2008. Prior to that some of the Soldiers’ Angels had been making Blankets of Hope for wounded troops. However, the nurses working with the wounded soldiers found that yarn products sometimes got tangled in the equipment and they asked that those items not be sent anymore. The Soldiers’ Angels did not want to waste the talents of the knitters and crocheters that were interested in donating their skills so they founded the VA Crochet Team.
Behind The Scenes
My Crochet Today blog post will tell you what the group is all about and why many people like to donate to soldiers’ charities and veterans’ charities like this one. Here I’ll tell you a little bit more about what it works like behind the scenes. Deb shared:
We have many crafters that donate every month, some a couple of times a year and some donate just one blanket. As a result, I don’t even have a count of how many members we have but there’s a lot of generosity happening.
I contact every VA facility at the beginning of the year. When/if the volunteer gets back to me with their needs/wants I put it all on a spreadsheet so that when a donor contacts me about their donation I can clearly see the address that the item should go to. I usually don’t give out an address until the person is ready to mail their item(s) because the needs/ wants of a VA can change from month to month. I try to match the donor’s state with a VA. I also ask our donors to contact me anytime they send items to the VA’s so I can record it.I do keep monthly and yearly records of what each VA receives and from whom, so the towards the end of the year if we have a VA that received less I can try to get more items to them.
At this time we are servicing more than 130 VA facilities and they each have different needs:
- Some only need lapghans
- Some only want to twin size lankets
- Some places only take fabric blankets due to high incidents of suicide
- Some VAs only need special items like sewn glass casses for vets having outpatient surgery
- In the last two years we have had many VAs that are in needs of baby blankets and baby hats for the newborns of pregnant female veterans
- Last year we had a new request for chemo pouches so we are evolving as these new needs come to our attention
We usually send any where from 200- 400 items a month. Last year our total count of items sent to the Veterans was 9,275. I travel every other month to one of the VA facilities in Chicago to hand deliver my items and I can personally tell you that what we do is greatly appreciated.
The organization does great work that is truly appreciated by the people who receive these gifts of comfort. And they couldn’t do it without all of the crocheters and other crafters who help with donations!