I know you love crocheting cute stuffed animals, and if you’re like me, you probably crochet a few more than you really need (oops!). That’s why I like to feature awesome charities that collect handmade stuffed animals! You can made a few extra to send in, and feel really fabulous about making a child’s day!
It’s not always easy to find a charity that’s willing to accept items that are bulky, such as a stuffed animal. If you haven’t already, please take a moment to read this blog post about donating toys, which out that many of the thousands of stuffed animals donated to tragedies such as Newtown ended up in the trash.
That’s why I’m really passionate about sharing charities that want stuffed animals and put them to great use!
This quarter’s featured charity is Project Teddy Bear, a program that both helps inmates crochet stuffed animals (a life-changing experience for them… read more about this aspect in my post about Knitting Behind Bars) as well as children who receive the animals.
Let’s learn about them!
About Project Teddy Bear
Project Teddy Bear is a restorative justice project in which inmates at the Federal Correctional Institution in Sandstone, MN teach one another to crochet animals and hats to be donated to children and their siblings at the Ronald McDonald House.
The project grew out of inmates’ desire to do something positive and give back to the community. A couple of the guys knew how to crochet and others were interested in learning. Dr. Poch, a psychologist at the prison, reached out to Dr. Shlafer at the University of Minnesota Medical School with the idea.
Dr. Shlafer’s research focuses on children’s outcomes when parents are incarcerated, and so this service project was a natural fit for her and her students. Yarn and supplies are collected and donated to Project Teddy Bear through students at the University of Minnesota and get delivered to the inmates. Using patterns, the inmates create amazing critters! All of the critters are specifically picked with little ones in mind. For example, small birds were made for kids to hold in their hands while getting blood draws; hats were made to cover kids’ heads after they lost their hair from chemotherapy treatment.
Every few months, the critters get delivered to the Ronald McDonald house and children get to come and pick out their favorites. The children at the Ronald McDonald House get so excited when they see the animals laid out and ready to be taken home with them. The animals create a bright spot in what can be a very hard time for children and families alike.
The inmates also benefit from participation in the program as it gives them a feeling of purpose and helps to break
down borders to reach a shared goal in the prison.
How you can help
This program is supported solely by donations from individuals in the community.
If you would like to be a part of Project Teddy Bear, monetary donations can be made through the University of Minnesota’s website.
You can donate handmade animals by mailing them to:
717 Delaware Street SE, Room 382, Minneapolis, MN 55414
You can e-mail Project Teddy Bear at: email@example.com with additional questions.