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Youth Campaign in Time for Winter

Update as of October 17, 2008
Please Read

This campaign is now completed. Thank you very much for participating. Please check our guidelines page for current campaign needs and due dates. We welcome your involvement.

Dear Knitters and Crocheters for Afghanistan,

We are pleased to announce that Church World Service has asked us to knit and crochet wool blankets and garments for youth (ages 7-14) in time for this winter. We are honored to have this opportunity to directly express our concern, respect, and friendship for the people of Afghanistan living under dire circumstances.

Church World Service has asked us to fill 80 cartons that will be air-shipped to Kabul. Depending on the mix of items, 80 cartons may hold 4,000-6,000 blankets and garments -- a large order in a relatively short period. Church World Service needs the volume to make the transit and distribution efficient and to clothe enough of the girls and boys under their care. These children are going to be cold and at risk, and we're stepping up to do what we can to comfort some of the girls and boys enduring hardships. Afghanistan continues to suffer from war, violence, poverty, and illness. Now is the time for us to rally for the coming winter.

Our gifts will be distributed at children's rehabilitation and health centers in Kabul and Bamiyan (where the giant Buddhas were destroyed by the Taliban in Summer 2001). These programs treat children who have been traumatized psychologically and physically by the years of war and poverty. Many have lost loved ones in front of their eyes. The girls and boys benefit from physical recreation, lessons in health and hygiene, nutrition, and social skills such as cooperation and peace-building. Church World Service has supported the region since 1954 and works in partnership with Afghan organizations. (Church World Service does not proselytize.)

We have worked with Church World Service previously. For our major campaign last year, we sent 81 cartons with 6,344 blankets and garments for the winter. Church World Service does a superb job -- organized, timely, and respectful -- of distributing our wool gifts. In 2003, we clothed 500 families in Balkh Province through a Church World Service supported agency. Some of you may remember that Airline Ambassadors hand-carried duffles of our hats to the kids at a Church World Service rehabilitation center in 2002.

The hot summer here means our incoming wool donations slow way down, but we're not going to let our weather deter us! Please find some air-conditioning and get started with the wool. Church World Service is using *air* shipping to better ensure that the girls and boys get supplied by the time the cold hits. Air-shipping is unusual. (We are going to help partially fund the plane transport because we feel strongly about working with Church World Service and using air to speed up the arrival of our gifts.) Shipping with capable relief groups and manageable logistics are harder and harder to obtain. We must seize this opportunity and hope you agree. We are counting on you, as always.

Please read this memo to ensure that you knit or crochet what is needed, per the specifications of Church World Service.

Church World Service has asked us to supply wool garments and blankets for girls and boys, ages 7-14 years:

  • Sweaters and Vests
    -- This year, Church World Service has asked for MORE SWEATERS and fewer hats. That's a greater challenge for us! (Everyone wants to knit hats. Perhaps those who wish to knit small items can focus on socks and mittens.)
    -- Please add buttons if not sending a pullover garment; garments need to close up against cold.
    -- Please be sure that sweaters have adequate coverage: full-length sleeves to the wrist (NO 3/4 sleeves); torsos need to be long (NO bare midriffs!).
    -- No hoodies, please.
  • Socks
    -- Basic socks with heels and good cover for the lower leg; no booties or slippers, please.
    -- Socks for knitters only (crochet does not work well for socks).
  • Mittens
  • Hats
    -- Be sure that hats cover ears.
    -- Hats need some stretch for comfort over forehead.
  • Blankets
    -- Minimum dimensions of 45" x 45".

    Please assume standard garment sizes. Afghan children may be thinner than North American children, but they are not shorter. Here's a size chart for reference.

    Please DO NOT send any other items not on the list above. Only the items above will be sent to Afghanistan.

    Additional essential information

  • Use wool (or other animal fiber) to provide maximum utility in harsh weather. Please review our memo on wool and fiber content.
  • Please avoid white and very light colors that soil more easily. Afghans like all colors. Feel free to mix up a bright and cheery palette. Use up those wool oddballs.
  • Knit or crochet your favorite pattern or try something new. Classic patterns are best.
  • Avoid lacy or airy patterns.
  • Consider trying your garment on your own children or a neighbor's child ... to double-check proper fit.

    Please review our general guidelines and mailing addresses here.

    Due dates

    US Due Date Oct. 14
    Canada Due Date: Oct. 3
    Our gifts are timed to arrive for the cold.

    Feel free to send in your items as soon as they are ready -- we need to stay on top of the sorting and packing rather than scramble at the last minute. This also lets us gauge our progress.

    Please spread the word!

    Another important way to participate ... please tell your fiber friends about our campaign. We count on our volunteers for the essential word-of-mouth to keep our momentum. Please share the link to this webpage. Add one of our banners to your blog or site.

    Looking for some camaraderie?

    Join Heidi's afghans for Afghans' knit and crochet-along. Please jump in now! Heidi is waiting for you!

    We are privileged to supply Church World Service. They know that the quality, beauty, and distinctiveness of our handmade wool blankets and garments are not available in any store! They know that each item is lovingly created by an American or Canadian as a special gift for a child in Afghanistan. And, we value their indispensable work.

    As you know from the news, life in Afghanistan remains difficult and insecure. Making a difference for people on the other side of the world seems an impossible task ... but your handmade gifts and generosity bring real comfort and warmth to the children and their families.

    If you have been thinking about participating, now is the time. We do not know when a similar opportunity will arise. When we receive specific requests from relief workers on the ground in Afghanistan, we do our best to say yes. They know what is needed, and we want to help. The Afghan people still need to know that we care. Maybe more than ever before.

    Don't you just LOVE a big, meaningful challenge?! We know you do!

    Thank you for reading about our campaign and for taking action with your own hands! Your caring and participation matter.

    Our best,
    Ann and colleagues at afghans for Afghans

    PS: Please do not send items for babies or children under 7 years. We know resisting the smallest is difficult, but we have been asked to clothe school-age children. We will likely get back to babies by November, depending on relief agency needs and available shipping.

    Our Dedication

    This campaign for Afghan youth is dedicated to the memory of three important friends whose compassion, generosity, and skills have been essential to the life of the afghans for Afghans project. We remember them with great respect and fondness.

  • Gail McHugh, our Auntie Gail on the popular KnitU online community, who championed afghans for Afghans from the beginning, giving support and wise advice to far-flung knitters who regularly gathered online under Gail's nurturing hospitality.

  • Maryanne Havryluck, humanitarian and airline attendant affiliated with Airline Ambassadors, who in 2002 personally delivered our hand-knit wool hats (as well as a party and cheer) to children at a rehabilitation center in Kabul; this was also our important introduction to Church World Service in Afghanistan.

  • Zainub Ashraf, a young American-Pakistani woman who graduated in international relations and was committed to encouraging cross-cultural understanding after 9/11, was on our founding web team when afghans for Afghans launched in late 2001.

    May their memories be a blessing.

    In partnership with the San Francisco office of the American Friends Service Committee, the afghans for Afghans project started in late 2001 in response to the war that unfolded after 9/11. Who knew that more than six years later, our handmade garments and blankets would still be needed in Afghanistan. Thank you for continuing to take action with your own hands to remember the Afghan people.

  • CWS Kabul 2007
    Children receiving our wool gifts in Kabul, 2007
    Photos courtesy of Church World Service.

    CWS Kabul 2007
    Wool blankets and garments for kids, ages 7-14

    CWS Kabul 2007
    Church World Service conducted a lovely distribution ceremony

    CWS Kabul 2007
    Girls and boys also received school supplies

    CWS Kabul 2007
    Much-appreciated winter wear from friends in North America

    In-VEST for Peace Art

    Click here to find out how to contribute and
    receive your In-VEST for Peace Tote Bag gift.

    Original In-VEST for Peace art by Rosemary Hill
    © 2006 afghans for Afghans
    All rights reserved



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