Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Giving Back

As my children get older and begin to understand that we are indeed a very fortunate family in so many ways, not the least of which is financially, we talk a lot about giving back to the community, both small and large. Once every six weeks, as a family, we get together with another family and cook and serve a meal for anywhere from thirty to fifty people at a local church. It takes place every Saturday night and is free to anyone who attends the dinner. We have been doing this since child #1 was about seven and now that child #2 is nine, he is part of the program as well. We cooked and served the other night to a crowd of about thirty-five: men, women, young, old, families, and singles. It was a chilly night here in New York, and most of our guests made the trek on foot. One of our guests told us that he had spent the previous night sleeping outside. We made every effort to make sure he didn't spend a second night outdoors, directing him to a local place that is home to an group of Franciscans.

We are lucky that we have this opportunity to give back and to do it as a family. I know a lot of people who tell me that they would love to volunteer but don’t know where to start. Well, today, I have a suggestion. My good friend, Mary Beth Powers, works for Save the Children, and is the campaign chief of Survive to 5, a program that is dedicated to keeping children around the world healthy and free from what we here in the United States consider preventable diseases. Mary Beth wrote me last week with her latest initiative called Knit One, Save One. Here’s the information:

I am sure you and your children are all super busy, but I just thought I would give you some info on our crafting campaign and you just might find a reason to help your children make a cap or at least to write a letter to the President Elect suggesting that the next administration has an important role to play to reduce the unnecessary deaths of millions of children from preventable diseases… You can download a KNIT ONE, SAVE ONE kit at the website below (but it will ask for your contact info to keep you “in the loop” on the project).

If they are in a club or group that would be willing to participate that is even better! They can plan a knit-in and I could even help with press outreach! If you are a teacher or in a school, maybe we could create an event for interested students afterschool so many can help.

If you want to understand the project – we have a couple of videos on YouTube about “Knit One, Save One”. And some celebrity knitters will soon be on our website with their cool caps as well.

It is a nice way to get people and especially children engaged in an issue beyond our own borders and to reach across the miles and give a small gift and good wishes to a mother and a baby on the other side of the world.

Thanks for considering this request.

Are you a CRAFTIVIST? Be 1 of the 10 million people who take action to help us save a baby's life. To learn more and find out how you can help, go to

I don’t think I could say it any better than Mary Beth. Although I’m not a knitter, I know people who are and I will do everything I can to get them involved. That’s my contribution. And it might just occur to one of them to give me free knitting lessons!

So, if you’re out there and you’re a “Craftivist” or just want to do something to give back, this is your chance. Knit a cap and save a life.

Maggie Barbieri


  1. An update: I just read in our local paper that Gwyneth Paltrow, Debra Messing, and Julia Roberts are all participating in this program! They've knitted caps and are trying to get the word out. One of our faithful Stiletto readers, Vicky, is a member of a knitting club and will hopefully get her members on board, too. If you decide to knit, would you let us know here? I'd love to be able to track our participation. Thanks! Maggie

  2. Maggie, my grandmother used to knit caps (donated through her church) and, when she passed away, my mom took over and she's been knitting caps for the last 12 years. If only I could knit! (I am hopeless, trust me.) I have a feeling your post will recruit some new knitters!

  3. I used to knit and paint, gave them both up in order to concentrate on my writing.

    The church I go to has a benevolence fund and a food pantry, believe me both are used a lot. Though we have a lot of rich people in our area, they are not the ones who attend our church.

    We buy gas for people, pay their electric bills, sometimes even pay first and last months rent to get people off the streets and into apartments. Food is handed out every week.

  4. Mags--I will not see my knitting group until either the 27th of Oct or the 3rd of Nov--I will bring this up to them and see if they are game. More as I find out. Perhaps even if my group doesn't bite, I can find another group (we have many around this general area) that will be interested?

    Thanks much. In meantime, I'll also check out the STC links you supplied.