For Jade Laswell, founder of the charitable crafting organization Craft Hope, it all started with 29 pillowcase dresses collected for Mexican orphanages. Or, really, with the revelation that came just before: "I was a stay-at-home mom, and a lot of us were making stuff all the time and showing it off to each other on our blogs -- 'Look, I made a skirt!' 'I made an apron!' -- and I thought, 'There has got to be something we can do that's bigger than this.'"
There was: 150,000 handmade items later, Craft Hope has become a major matchmaker for charitable projects, pairing energetic makers and their kids with people and communities in need. Jade posts available opportunities to craft for a cause on her Craft Hope blog and Facebook page, and her fans share the call to action far and wide. Since 2009, Craft Hope has partnered with 22 projects, and, in the process, provided 1,767 Christmas stockings for tornado survivors in the Southeast, 1,416 handmade bibs for orphans in China, and nearly 3,000 pairs of decorated flip-flops for children in Nicaragua.
Jade describes Craft Hope as "a love-based organization with the simple idea that small handmade projects can make a big difference." And they do make a big difference, in the lives of everyone involved. "It's not just the receiver that gets the gift in this," Jade explains. "If you get your kids involved in making something for someone else, it's one of the biggest gifts you can give them. We're teaching them to think outside themselves and showing them that there are tangible ways to change the world."
Now there's another way for crafty kids to help. FamilyFun and Craft Hope are partnering with Enchanted Makeovers, a nonprofit organization with chapters in all 50 states that turns drab shelters for women and children into happy, comfortable places.
We're asking our readers to help with Enchanted Makeovers' Capes for Kids project by crafting homemade superhero capes for children living in shelters. Why capes? Enchanted Makeovers founder, Terry Grahl, explains that it's not just because they lend themselves to imaginative play, but also because they remind kids, don't wait for a superhero...be one. Terry remembers, "One mother wrote a note that said, 'My daughter is sleeping in her cape.' The girl didn't want to take it off. Think about it, the empowerment of all these children wearing these capes! It's so beautiful."
Make a cape with your family, make a bunch with your Girl Scout troop, or throw a cape party and make dozens. You'll be doing something important -- giving hope to kids in crisis -- while being creative and having fun. "With a handmade item," Terry says,"all this positive energy and love is built into it. And people feel that. You can't get that off a shelf."How you can help!
1. Make a cape, or several, following our directions on the next page!
2. Take a photo of your finished cape. Creative posing is encouraged!
3. Upload your photo to our Facebook page by going to facebook.com/familyfun, and clicking on the "capes for kids" tab.
4. Mail your capes to:
12663 Hipp Street Taylor, MI 48180
Visit crafthope.com to learn about Jade's latest projects. Go to enchantedmakeovers.org to find other ways to help families in transition.