Please note: as of June 2019, the Ships Project is on indefinite hiatus. Check their website (and keep an eye on the sidebar to the right) for an update.
Join forces with the Ships Project to lift the spirits of American soldiers all over the world
It all began in the aftermath of September 11, 2001, when Ellen Harpin sent a letter addressed “to any soldier” overseas.
A sailor serving on the U.S.S. Bataan named Gloria received the letter. As Ellen had mentioned she was a knitter, Gloria joked in a return letter that she could really use some knitted slippers.
Ellen responded immediately with — what else? — knitted slippers!
Gloria’s friends were so impressed with her new slippers that they requested 60 more pairs.
Ellen recruited her friends to help her meet the demand, and by December she had launched an Internet knitting list she called The Bataan Project.
Over time, her organization grew to over a thousand knitters, and it kept going strong even after the Bataan returned home.
How hand knitting comforts overseas troops
It can be hard for a soldier to serve overseas, wondering if anyone back home appreciates what they do.
While the volunteers of The Ships Project can’t get hand-knitted goods to every soldier that deserves them, they’re doing all they can to show Americas troops that we really are grateful for their sacrifices.
These days, of course, the name “The Ships Project” reflects their past more than their present. Although some of the slippers, hats, mittens, and other knitted goodies do go to ship-based personnel, their land-based colleagues get them too, especially those based in the Middle East.
Handmade Hugs from Home
The Ships Project continues to knit its own form of hugs for troops deployed in the War on Terror. Their projects include a wide variety of handmade hats, cool ties, slippers, and other knitted items.
Troops in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines all receive donations. As of this writing, The Ships Project has distributed over 1 million items!
Although soldiers fighting the War on Terror usually operate under severe mail restrictions, the military has encouraged The Ships Project to keep sending troops these warm “hugs from home.”
Your Knitting Marching Orders: How You Can Knit for Troops
You can find everything you’d like to know about the Ship Project, from its history to a tremendous variety of patterns to addresses where you can send your completed items, at their website.
Hats and slippers are the knitted items the soldiers need the most. Although the colors of the slippers don’t matter as much, unless requested otherwise you should knit your caps in shades of brown, black and dark green. They should be snug, so they’ll fit under a helmet. If an item can’t handle going through a washing machine, label it as “hand-wash only.”
Check out their “What We’re Sending” page. You’ll find out not only what they currently need, but also the guidelines for any project.
The needs of The Ships Project change from month to month, so take a look at their website to see what’s most in demand at any particular time. Also, you’ll want to join their Yahoo! mailing list group. This is the best way for members to keep apprised of current needs; it’s also the only way to receive the proper shipping address.
The Ships Project is one of the United States’ longest-running knitting charities for overseas troops. If this is a cause you’d like to knit for, this could be the perfect project for you!
Want to learn more ways to knit for troops? Check out the articles in the Knitting Charities for Troops/Veterans category on this website!