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Getting Free Yarn & Crafting Materials for Charity?

My family runs a small non-profit that teaches sustainability and self sufficiency to teens in low-income, high risk environments. We help teens become small time entrepreneurs to begin to support themselves using what they already have available or what can be cheaply gotten (teach a man to fish and all that). This includes knitting/crocheting, making cosmetics (soap and lotion), home goods (candles, afghans, quilts) and cooking.

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As the resident crafter I have been tasked with two things. 1) Make warm things to give as donations (hats, scarves, gloves, socks, blankets, afghans, etc). You'd be surprised how many people go through winters in MA with no heat, even if they have a roof over their heads). Having been homeless myself, my personal opinion is that being poor doesn't mean you don't care how you look (many times it means you care more). This is especially true for teenage girls, so I take the extra time to make the items fashionable.
2) Source crafting supplies (including yarn, needles, hooks, and all the other little knitting/crochet accessories).

My budget? $0. This is my own personal baby so I am starting with absolutely nothing, but a big heart and willing hands. Any advice where I can get free yarn (or old afghans, sweaters, scarves, etc. that can be upcycled), needles, hooks, etc,? Any help would be greatly appreciated. As we have a good 5-6 months before the weather starts to turn up here we are looking to get a head start.

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May 17, 20190 found this helpful

I used to work for a newspaper and I have volunteered for a lot of organizations doing publicity. Here are my suggestions: Try to get the local newspaper to do a story or run a short blurb about what you are doing. Smaller town newspapers and community newspapers may likely be more willing to give you space than a large metro. The timing may also be a factor: whenever school is out, news seems to slow down so the places I worked for would say "yes" more often if it was during Thanksgiving, Christmas or summer breaks. Also they have college interns needing "easy" feature stories to write during June and July so you might touch base with the mid-sized to larger papers at that time. If there is a broadcast station that does community news or community interest features, let them know what you are doing. They may get you on the air to discuss what you need and how you are helping. Then, try Craigslist and Facebook to let folks in your area know what you need and how you are helping.

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If you have many volunteers and clients, ask them to reach out to their churches, classes, civic organizations and friends to ask for donations. If you have schools and colleges nearby, contact them to see if a service organization will support you by sponsoring a drive for what you need. (Especially on college campuses at end of spring semester, when students are moving out.) Finally, I would call any businesses that run estate sales or sell materials like you use and ask if they have leftover or damaged merchandise; if so, would they consider donating it? Make sure when you contact people, they have your name, an address (even a P.O. Box) and a phone number where they can contact you. If you plan to be out of town or if you are unavailable during the work day, you need to put someone else's contact information on any letters or brochures you give out -- nothing is worse than a reporter or store manager trying to contact you to help, and then not getting through to anyone.

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May 18, 20190 found this helpful

Wow. Thanks Lisa. Much appreciated!

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May 17, 20190 found this helpful

Go to yarn and craft stores and ask for donations. Also put want ads on Freecycle and Craigslist

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May 19, 20190 found this helpful

You have a good story to tell so write up a page (make it to the point) (only one page including pictures) take several pictures of yourself, completed items and add them to the page. Be sure to include contact information in larger print.

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You seem to need a continuous supply of items so whatever you do will have to be an ongoing thing (like checking monthly to be sure your story is still posted).
Have some printed up to post anywhere a store will let you.
Church bulletin boards (any church/denomination).
Restaurants (ask).
Schools - you just never know until you ask.
Thrift stores - these are really good places to check if you visit every week or two and ask for anything on your list. Church, Hospice, Habitat, Salvation Army, thrift stores all have throw away bins that have all kinds of stuff that is not good enough to be sold. Maybe they will put aside some thing for you (but only if you are truthful about stopping to pick it up).

Place wanted ads on Craigslist, Freecycle, USA4Sale, Nextdoor as these are god mines for stuff like this - but only if you tell a little about your project or have web link where they can read about your project.

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nextdoor.com/

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May 20, 20190 found this helpful

Hi Ladies. Your answers and suggestions are amazing and things I would never have thought of! Thank you!!!

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