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Getting Materials for a Knitting Class (Discounted, Donated, or otherwise)

Hey-- I am currently working as a volunteer in Guatemala and have been asked to teach knitting by several individuals and am working on starting a class here. However, it is difficult to come by knitting needles (as it's not popular here) and am wondering if there is a way to get materials (more specifically needles, but yarn is always good too) for either a large discount or by donation. As a volunteer, I receive a small stipend every month, likely not enough to buy several sets of needles. And the folks that I am working with also don't have much extra spending money (the currency exchange here is 8 Quetzales to 1 USD), so even if they did, the conversion would still be expensive for them. I don't want to say no because of a lack of funding!

I suppose what I'm asking is this: Has anyone ever written to yarn/needle companies asking for donations for needles or yarn to give knitting classes? With success? Can anyone recommend the best way to go about this? Any help or advice would be appreciated. Thank you!

Jess

Forums: 

Have you tried a plea on Facebook or other social outlets? Any time I post a need for ANYTHING, I am pleasantly surprised by the response.

Have you asked the Helping Hands Foundation, Inc.? Here is a letter I received explaining the program:

Thanks so much for your inquiry into the Helping Hands Foundation (HHF). Following is some basic information about the foundation and the Needle Arts Mentoring Program (NAMP) and what you need to do if you would like to be a part of our program:

NAMP programs team up adult mentors who know how to do needle arts with children who want to learn them. Our programs are currently found in after school programs, classrooms, church groups, scout troops and library programs. HHF supplies students under the age of 18 with the supplies they need (for knitting students, a kit including needles, yarn and a "How To Knit" book). Of course, I need to know exactly how many children are interested in learning to do which needle art (we have supplies for knitting, crochet, needlepoint or cross-stitch). So you must decide how many mentors you have teaching which needle art, and then you can get the children involved. We usually recommend no more than 3-5 children per mentor, since the students usually need quite a bit of one-on-one help at the beginning especially. Programs generally just work on one needle art at a time (some have added cross-stitch to knitting after a semester or so, for example).

You can look at our Web site (www.needleartsmentoring.org) to see if there is an active program in your area as well as to look at the Leadership Guide there, so you have some idea what's involved in having a program. I'm attaching a mentor recruiting flyer that you can personalize to help recruit mentors (parents, grandparents, needle artists who frequent a local shop, etc.). The tools and the "How To" books will be the children's to keep.

We provide cross-stitch or needlepoint programs one complete kit for each participant. Patterns for our suggested first projects for knit and crochet are in the back of the Leadership Guide, which I will send you with your supplies once you're ready to roll. The first is a bookmark - very simple to do and a good starter pattern (when supplies are received, we suggest a minimum $10 donation for every 20 students to cover printing and mailing costs). Secondly, we suggest that each child knit or crochet a blanket square that can be sewn together into a blanket for donation to a local charity or hospital, or to a national program like "Warm Up America".

Once you have your mentors recruited, send me a list of their names/addresses/e-mail addresses (for a newsletter mailing list). Also, I'll need to know how many children will be involved in the program and which discipline they'll be learning. I will send a Leadership Guide and a training DVD (about 19 minutes) for your mentors - it'll help answer any questions your mentors have about the program. It's important that you take some time to train your mentors prior to beginning the program. A minimum $10 donation for every 20 students is suggested to defray our printing and postage costs.

Upon hearing that you have successfully recruited mentors and rounded up interested children to learn a needle art, I will forward a supplies order form for you to return to me. I'll wait to hear from you. Let me know if you have any other questions.

Penny Sitler Executive Director, Helping Hands Foundation, Inc.

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