Art Not Shame is always dreaming of creative ways to engage creatives, care for the community, and continue offering our free and pay-what-you-can arts programming. In this spirit, we came up with the idea of the Knit-a-thon fundraiser. Think charity walk or run – but with yarn!
The Knit-a-thon launched in October 2021 and asked knitters and crocheters of all ages and levels to sign up as individuals or teams. Stitchers set up profiles on Canada Helps and rallied their friends and family to support them in making squares . These squares were then sewn into blankets and donated to the Guelph/Wellington Community Health Van (The van connects community members with harm reduction supplies,naloxone training and distribution of things like food, clothing, hygiene items and nursing supports. They also provide peer and social supports) to distribute to other community members in need.
As a young charity, we were super excited to promote the Knit-a-thon and really get lots of individuals, local organizations and businesses involved in a giant act of community care. The event lasted six weeks and included all sorts of goodies – it was like a big crafting party! Art Not Shame hosted two virtual knit nights for participants to connect and ask questions and just be social. There were prizes donated from some amazing local businesses which went into gift baskets for knitters/crocheters who raised the most funds, had the most donors and by random draws.
At the office, we received not only monetary contributions, but also donations of a rainbow of beautiful handmade squares of all colours and textures. It was so fun to collect squares from local organizations and businesses who offered to be drop off points for the community.
We quickly realized that we needed a team to sew the blankets together and our personal deadline of delivering the blankets to the Community Health Van before Christmas was not able to happen.
By the end of the event we had collected over 500 squares from over 41 knitters/crocheters and the wonderful team at Walls To Bridges created two entire blankets in their organizational colours. (Walls to Bridges is an innovative educational program that brings together incarcerated (“Inside”) and non-incarcerated (“Outside”) students to study university-level courses in jails and prisons across Canada).
We wanted to offer full sized blankets and not lap blankets, so we decided the blankets would be 48” wide by 60” long. We had a huge task in-front of us and were ready to get to work. We sorted the squares into similar weights and colours and made up kits that consisted of 36 squares, some yarn to sew them with, and a darning needle. We then made a call out to our wonderful Art Not Shame community asking for volunteers to sew these blankets together. We ended up with 15 completed blankets we were able to deliver to the Guelph/Wellington Community Health Van at the beginning of March.
We were delighted with the endeavour and raised over $3000 for Art Not Shame’s programming. The enthusiasm for this Knit-a-thon from so many people in the Guelph community was inspiring and uplifting. We hope to continue to offer unique opportunities for fundraising and creative community engagement.
The Art Not Shame team would like to thank all of the knitters and stitchers and those that donated. Special thanks to the Walls to Bridges team. The generous donations for gift baskets from Kennedy Park, Blooms and Flora, All Strung Out, Sage Soap Company, Planet Bean and Park Grocery. All of our volunteer drop off locations; Shelldale Family Gateway, String Theory, The Dropped Stitch, and the University of Guelph.