If you can knit a square, you can knit for charity with Warm Up America!
Warm Up America! was the first knitting charity I ever heard of. I remember when I lived in Ohio and had just started knitting, a friend of mine from church knew someone who knitted extensively for Warm Up America! She brought me a folder filled with information about WUA, along with a bunch of patterns.
I can still remember the excitement I felt when I looked through that folder. Gradually it dawned on me: while I was extremely new to knitting, I could still use my limited skills to help others.
That excitement might be why so many knitters and crocheters have joined the Warm Up America! mission since its inception in 1991. Even yarn crafters with the most basic of skills could now create for charity!
All It Takes is One Square
Evie Rosen, the proprietor of The Knitting Nook in Wausau, Wisconsin, first conceived the idea for Warm Up America! in 1991. The charity addresses two issues close to knitters’ hearts: one small, the other large enough to encompass the entire world.
First of all, she wanted to help warm up the homeless people of America — that’s the big issue.
As for the small issue, she had to do something with all the oddball lots of yarn she and every other serious knitter collected and then didn’t use. So why not tackle both issues with one project?
Leftover yarn works so well for knitting squares that can be sewn together to make afghans, those cozy knitted blankets that have been traditional to American households for hundreds of years.
And so Warm Up America! was born.
Evie started the project at a local grassroots level, but it wasn’t long before it attracted national attention. Articles in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and Crafts magazine quickly sent its popularity through the roof.
Afghans for Americans
Warm Up America! started out as a way to provide warmth for any Wisconsonite who had lost their home, for whatever reason. Now it’s coast to coast, and volunteers all over America have lovingly knitted uncounted squares and stitched them into blankets.
Since 1994, the Craft Yarn Council of America has run the day-to-day operations of Warm Up America! Evie retired, but she continued to participate until her death in 2012. Under their joint guidance, Warm Up America! became the best-known and largest charity of its kind.
Warm Up America! – No Longer Just Squares
WUA is synonymous with knitting and crocheting squares. But what you may not know is that they take all sorts of other items as well! In addition to squares and fully constructed afghans of all sizes, WUA also accepts adult hats, scarves, and baby clothing.
Unlike some nationwide knitting charities, WUA does not have separate branches. Instead, it has one central location. Anyone having trouble finding a local spot for their knitted and crocheted creations can send them to this office. You can find their address on this page.
However, WUA encourages charity knitters and crocheters to find local service organizations that will accept their donations. On this page (scroll to “Reaching People in Need with Warm Up America! Afghans”) you’ll find a terrific list of suggestions for community organizations that may accept your creations.
Again, you can always donate directly to WUA if you find nowhere local. You may also choose to donate directly to WUA if you’d like to help with any of their current needs. You can find a list of these needs on this page.
You can find much more on the Warm Up America! website. These include knitting patterns, tips on assembling afghans, “Made with Love” labels, and even a set of lesson plans so you can teach kids to knit.
Warm Up America! has proven for over 25 years that you don’t need to be a master knitter or crocheter to craft for charity. All you need is a few sticks, some yarn, and a willingness to help others!
Looking for more places to donate your afghan squares? Check out this category at Knitting for Charity!