Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Knitting Helmet Liners - Plan B

I asked Joan if she would give a little run down of what she has been doing in regard to collecting helmet liners for our project. She has taken up the cause with an enthusiasm you just wouldn't believe, and she is producing phenomenal results. I hope what she shares will give you some ideas and motivation as to ways you too can help us meet our Knitted Helmet Liner goal for our Marines and Sailors!


Having been involved with the package project for the Warlords during their deployment to Iraq last year, I was very excited to be informed of this year’s Love and Support from Santa’s Elves project. Last year’s experience was a wonderful adventure of acquiring items (socks being my specialty) and monetary donations. We had a great sense of accomplishment by meeting our goals last year.

I personally received gifts of friendship and lots of fun along the way. Delving full force into the cause was a very healthy diversion in dealing with the concept of our son’s deployment. It made me feel like I was helping in some small way while our Marines were giving of themselves so fully for freedom’s cause.

Now, this year comes the daunting task of acquiring 1,000 hand-knit helmet liners.

Plan A:

Get out the knitting needles, buy some wool and start knitting. The only problem is…I don’t know how to knit!

I have great admiration for those of you out there right now with needles in hand as beginners producing helmet liners. Your confidence and courage is awesome, but I needed to think of another way to help get the job done. This brings me to:

Plan B:

Be Bold, Be Creative and Be Persistent.

Here is a summary of things we have done to reach out and find people to help us with this project. It is my hope that some of these ideas will work for you.

· The obvious - ask friends family, neighbors and coworkers to help. Enlist their help to seek out knitters. Spread the word to everyone you know, send e-mails and hand out the information.

· The not so obvious - I have found ways to work the question “Do you knit or know anyone who knits?” into many conversations, even with people I hardly know. I have found a knitting club at a college campus, one at a local library and volunteers in some unusual places. It never hurts to ask! You may be surprised.

· A broad audience - have an article placed in your local newspaper. After our article appeared (click for link to article), we received phone calls virtually daily for two weeks with offers from individuals and groups to knit. Post the information on public bulletin boards. Ask craft shops if you can leave information at their stores.

· Target audience - groups already established for the purpose of helping others can be wonderful resources. Have announcements placed in church bulletins (very successful recruiting). Contact your local military service organizations such as the American Legion, their Auxiliary, VFW and Marine Corps League.

These groups already have a mission to help the military and are usually very supportive of such projects. One woman from an Auxiliary offered to take our information to her state conference later this week. A Legion member has a friend who is teaching a knitting class. She took the information and is making the helmet liners one of the required lessons in the class.

· Supply resources - I have found that offering wool to knitters encourages them to knit and hopefully knit greater numbers of liners. Early on, I realized that purchasing the wool could be a financial burden or an inconvenience for volunteers.

We started collecting money to purchase wool (over $400 at this point). Also from a tip given by a volunteer knitter, my daughter contacted the Plymouth Yarn Co. in Bristol, PA and received a donation of 40 balls of wool. At this point in the project, I get frequent phone calls from volunteers requesting wool to make more.

· The Domino Effect - one person or contact leads to another. Example: in order to receive the donated wool, the company required us to find one of their customers willing to be a host shop where they could ship the donated wool. The shop owner that I found was very willing to be our host. When I went to pick up the wool, she took the instructions and offered to make copies to hand out to her customers, as well as knitting them herself. She also plans to pass the information onto students that she teaches knitting to at a local art school. There turned out to be a good reason that the yarn company didn’t ship the wool directly to our home.

· Be organized - always carry the information with you (the cards printed from the blog site are great). Keep wool in the trunk of your car. Have a few convenient satellite locations, such as friends and families, where you can leave supplies and arrange drop off points. Network knitters together to help each other (ask someone that finished a liner to help someone having trouble with the instructions). I have found that keeping a notebook with all your contacts, their information and notes on project activity helps to keep track of everything-like having an external memory when mine seems limited. At this time my notebook includes information on 21 contacts, 6 of which are groups.

Think of any possible way to get the word out. There are knitters out there; we just need to find them. You will find that many are excited and willing to help with this project. You will hear many interesting stories from volunteers about their knitting and their life (like the woman who learned how to knit from the Red Cross when she was in high school in order to send items to the troops during World War II). You will have fun and feel good about helping. You will feel the warmth and support of others as you deal with the emotions involved with the deployment of your loved one.

Get involved, spread the word, spread enthusiasm and think positive. Remember, there is always Plan B.

We can do this!

Proud Warlord Mom,


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