Beginnings

2015 has been an interesting year. So much has changed in my world, and so much has happened around the world in general. I have alot to be thankful for.

I’m sitting here making a list of what I want to accomplish in 2016, because I accomplished so much more this past year than I thought I would. I’m also freaking out about the hoards of laundry I need to do because I have alot of clothing and hand-knitted items to take in to various shelters and organizations next week. I have hats galore that need new heads to cover! Aside from Travel, rebuilding my savings account and designing a pattern or two, one thing has been on my mind: How can I, some tiny knitting blogger in the midwest, make the world a better place?

It may seem lofty, but it’s something that’s been on me heart for a while. Aside from enrolling in Nursing school to further a career in helping people, what ELSE can I do?

Now, if you’ve been with me for a while, you’ll know that I’ve run an interesting track with philanthropic avenues. I’ve done quite alot with this quarter of my life, but how am I REALLY changing things for the better?

I was at dinner with my Hookers the other night. We got to chatting about life, politics, and global events. My podium was that of Children in need. Brooke felt very passionately for the plight of middle eastern refugees, and Sarah strongly argued for the needs of homeless Veterans.

I thought to myself, why?

We seem to think that it is the Governments job to do this, that, and the other, I mean that’s why we elect them and pay taxes, right?

There are very close to 300 MILLION people in the United States. Why is it that only a small handful of politicians should be expected to wave some imaginary wand and *poof* things into being better? Why should we expect for someone else to take care of everything?

Are we not part of this world?

Surely, there are several people who all feel that one issue is bigger than another, so why are we all not out there DOING SOMETHING about it?

Alot of people like to just sit at home and spout of what need takes priority, but they don’t do anything to rally their cause. Talk is cheap. Pick your fight, and suit up.If you don’t like someone’s idea of taking in refugees, don’t worry about it! If YOU feel passionately about any cause, then put your time into it. If you don’t have time, make phone calls to your elected officials about it. If you don’t want to do that, then donate money or resources to it.

300 million people. That’s alot of individuals, compared to the number of causes. Food for thought. I, as a free-range knitter, as well as my fellow Crafty Tribe out there in the world, have an advantage. We can contribute something we love into something that can benefit so many people in so many ways. Knitting, in my not so humble opinion, is an equal-opportunity force for good in the world.

Yes, crochet is too but good grief it takes so much more yarn!!

My community is small, just a tiny corner of the Midwest in a relatively medium size town, but it has SO many needs. So, to my fellow Ozark Folk, here are some issues, and here’s how you can help:

Domestic:
Homeless and Hungry:
The Kitchen: http://www.thekitcheninc.org/
The Kitchen Inc. Is a HUGE non-profit network in Springfield MO. They have numerous programs to assist those in need. They offer case management assistance, food and clothing assistance, even a program for homeless youth called The Rare Breed.

Ozarks Food Harvest: https://ozarksfoodharvest.org/how-to-help/
Ozarks Food Harvest frequently has drop stations for people to drop off food throughout the city throughout the year. You can also volunteer as a Hunger Hero and volunteer your time to sort and deliver food to those in need.

Salvation Army: http://www.salvationarmyspringfield.org/ways-to-help/volunteer/
The Salvation Army has a wide variety of volunteer opportunities outside for the classic holiday Bell Ringers. Inquire about their shelter programs and food pantries.

Veterans:
Veterans Service Programs through the City: http://www.springfieldmo.gov/1052/Veteran-Services
Hire a Veteran! One of the biggest struggles among Veterans is the vicious cycle of unemployment and homelessness. This link shows some of the workforce development strategies that business owners in Springfield can benefit from when hiring veterans.

MSU Department of Veteran Services: http://www.missouristate.edu/veterans/
For students of MSU, contact the department office and see how you can contribute to veterans seeking higher education. A good place to start would be volunteering for their tutoring program.

Children:
CASA: http://www.casaswmo.org/
Of all the ways I have volunteered over the years, CASA is my favorite. As a Court Appointed Special Advocate, or CASA, you receive training to be assigned to a foster child, or in my case a set of siblings. Your mission is to work in the best interest of the child and speak on behalf of What The CHILD OR CHILDREN Want. You advocate for their needs and wants equally. For example, the oldest child was 3 and due to previous trauma, had several behavioral concerns. The team didn’t know of any therapist who worked with children under 5, but I was able to work my resources and find one who does.  In terms of wants, you are the voice to listen and respect when the child expresses whether they want to reunite with their parents, or divulge that they wish to remain with their foster placement. Thankfully my children are in a traditional foster home, but it is not uncommon for some children to be in a group home setting. Even better? The training is facilitated over just a few short weeks, and once you are assigned to your child or children, you will only have to give less than 10 hours a Month to this cause. Ten hours a MONTH, and you can make all the difference in a child’s life.

The Child Advocacy Center: https://www.childadvocacycenter.org/support/volunteer-opportunities/
This organization is an amazing facility. When children are victims or witness to violent or sexual crimes, the CAC is a Child Friendly facility where specially trained Interviewers speak to the child about their experiences. This less- stressful way of gathering evidence from the child often saves the child from having to testify in open court in front of the offender.  They have limited but very interesting volunteer experiences as well as internships on their website.

Springfield Public Schools: http://www.springfieldpublicschoolsmo.org/pages/SPSMO/About/Services/N-Z/Volunteer_Programs
To make a difference, why not volunteer at the place where children spend the most of their day?

Care to Learn: http://caretolearnfund.org/
This organization is one of my favorites.  This organization provides much needed clothing, food, and hygiene items to children in need through Springfield Public Schools.

Violence:
Harmony House: https://www.myharmonyhouse.org/
From personal experience volunteering and being employed here, I have learned so much about the need in this community for assistance, education, and advocacy for those who are the victims of Domestic Violence.  This is an EMERGENCY shelter for women (and Men!) who are fleeing from abusive relationships that threaten their lives.  I started out as an intern here and I tell you, I had experiences and built relationships that will last a lifetime.

The Victim Center: http://www.thevictimcenter.org/
This organization aids a broad spectrum of citizens in need who may personally be victims or have witnessed violent crimes.

General:
The United Way of the Ozarks: http://www.uwozarks.com/take-action/
This organization helps numerous small, non-profit charities around the Ozarks area. You can give your time for one day, or on a regular basis. This will give you a taste of all the local needs of your fellow Ozark folk!

Abroad:
The Refugee Crisis:
International Institute: http://iismo.org/
The Springfield satellite campus offers a welcoming committee from people all over the world, advocating for Refugees and Asylees finding housing, education, work and shelter.

Women and Children in Need:
Building Foundations of Hope: http://bfoh.org/
Though no longer based in Springfield, this grassroots organization was started by a college classmate of mine. Becky’s passion and drive to serve the children of Uganda is inspiring, so get involved and help this organization get off the ground and running!

BlinkNow: http://www.blinknow.org/
This organization is also not based in Springfield, but when I read the story of this woman beginning this non-profit, it inspired me to share, it just goes to show how much you can help with such little monetary startup.
•    The founder: http://www.cnn.com/2015/11/17/world/cnn-hero-of-the-year-2015/index.html

A Mix of Both:
Convoy of Hope: https://www.convoyofhope.org/
This organization gives aid to those in need in the U.S. and abroad. Their international effort are selected mainly for groups, but every Tuesday from 6:30-8:30 you can donate your time by helping sort supplies to go to those in need around the world.

Still don’t have the means to volunteer but still want to contribute to society?
This also extends to Contributing your Crafts. If you’re an avid Knitter like me or you like to crochet, sew, whatever, start compiling your scrap yarn or fabric into some striped hats and scarves to donate to these to local charities such as the Salvation Army or Care to Learn. They will go to great use.

Clothing: Clean out your closets. A Variety of non-profits in Springfield provide tax receipts, so you can help yourself while helping others!
Here is a link to various other Food Pantries to donate to:  http://www.foodpantries.org/ci/mo-springfield

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