How Handmade Items Can Unite A Community
Working with our hands and creating things is quite rewarding. Not only that, but it also gives so many opportunities to bring people together. Crafting is one of my favorite things to do. If you had told me fifteen years ago about all the things that I would be creating now with knitting and crocheting, there is a very good chance I would have probably laughed in disbelief. Fast forward to today and that is exactly what happened.
One day, quite a few years ago, I was invited to join ladies I knew (and some I did not) to learn to knit, crochet, or even do another craft. I had been visiting our local library with our youngest when she was just a small toddler on a night they were gathering for their Knit Night. It was quite a sight watching these ladies all sitting together and enjoying each other’s company.
Some of them were long-time crafters while others were just learning themselves. I will never forget how inviting and how wonderful the camaraderie was to witness. I am glad that I did decide to try it out. Much to my surprise I quickly caught on to both knitting and crocheting. It would be several years before I was comfortable enough to try more complicated projects but I did eventually learn to make things that seemed far outside my comfort zone. Sometimes our hang-ups are ourselves and we need to get out of our own way!
As I have been thinking about writing this article, two things stood out to me that I have been pondering and considering. What does it mean to me when I hear these terms “Crafting for a cause” and for something to “unite a community”? Now add to that and consider what they mean together. I do not think these are questions that can be answered in only one way.
Now, I know that not everyone can make things with their hands. We all have different talents and that is ok. I am also aware of there being times and seasons in life that make gathering with others for some things a lot harder and maybe even impossible. Sometimes we enjoy doing things like what follows with those closest to us, by ourselves, or with our children and family. What follows are just some ideas and thoughts to get our brains thinking. I am certain there are a lot of great ideas others have and tried.
Let’s consider some scenarios that we may see crafting for a cause in action that is building a community. Each of these can look very different from the next, but I believe
they are great ways to start thinking about building a community and uniting it through crafting. What are things that you are good at that you can make with your hands? You may have seen people gathered in a place such as a library chatting and crafting. Some may be brand new and clumsily making what should look like a square. Others may be happily moving along on what looks like a complicated pattern with ease. Still, others may be teaching a craft they know to someone who wants to learn or improve. There are often stories about their lives, hardships going through, struggles, battles they are fighting, funny things that have happened, and anything else you could probably envision. There is laughter, fun, and tears shed that are happy and even sad at times. A sense of belonging pierces the air. These people know each other and are in the trenches of life together. Friendships are built that can last a lifetime. The sound of children sometimes can fill the room, when they are present. Oh, how much of a joy that is, especially when they are enjoying the atmosphere too and “helping” or
learning something themselves.
Imagine seeing brethren spending time to make handmade things either individually or gathering in a group to work on projects. Groups that do this together have the same great opportunities too. They share what they make with others as gifts because they know of needs, to cheer up the lonely,spread kindness, for a bridal or wedding shower, baby shower, or any number of other thoughtful reasons. The joy, love, and memories that are made really bring people together and foster a sense of belonging in a community of brethren. The kindness shown in this setting is never forgotten and means so much to those who are celebrating something, new to a group or area, lonely, hurting, sick, in need of some cheering up, or maybe those who are in need. Many families spend time together making all kinds of crafts and passing on skills. I remember doing these kinds of things with my children, and have many friends who have as well with theirs. Hearing the littles laughing and telling stories as they create things with their own hands or with some help is a beautiful sight. I have noticed they love to share with others, especially the elderly, the fun things they have made for them. Children enjoy seeing others light up and get excited when they share their creations.
What are the benefits? Does it really unite people?
This can all create a sense of belonging when it is done in a kind and loving manner. Spending time with others talking about life and even spiritual things while you are creating things or learning a new craft creates such a wonderful bond. Sharing what is handmade blesses people in ways that we sometimes do not realize. Including others in your groups when you have them gives chances for foundations to either be laid or built upon in a community. We can easily look around and see most of society, including believers, busy with their own lives. We all have things going on. Some more than others. When we take time out of our days to make things for other people or even just simply gather in these ways, we are investing in the lives of others.
Including the youth is a big part of this too. Of course, we can have times that are for adults only but allowing them to benefit from all of this and seeing it also helps them
learn. Another wonderful benefit is seeing the sharing in action and helping do these things alongside us. There are times that they can show the adults a thing or two about how to care about and for others without much thought to it actually being a sacrifice. My daughter and I have wonderful memories of her with me at the library and also of me teaching her at home how to knit and crochet.
Homeschooling is a great opportunity to put this all into practice. Skills can be passed down within a family and even possibly multiple families getting together to pass down to the youth any crafting skills. Field trips can be endless for ideas to teach, learn, and share handmade items. Youth can really do a lot in these settings and do some great things building and uniting.
Taking the time to teach skills can also eventually lead to someone being able to open up their own business. The ideas and benefits from this alone are endless. This is not impractical nor is it impossible for some.
I want to share in this! Where can I start?
Even those who are not crafty can still enjoy these times and build community by helping with the sharing of them or even asking someone to make things for you to be able to share with others. If you know of anyone who would benefit from handmade items but do not make them yourself, distributing them for others who do make them is a tremendous help for those who do want to share. Not only by sharing but just spending time together as all of these things are done creates so many occasions to just be together and grow in relationships. Crafting certainly helps us talk, especially if you like to work with your hands and it can cause others to become interested to learn what you are doing as well. Many places might accept handmade items such as churches, congregations, ministries, police stations, hospitals, NICUs, PICUs, shelters, libraries, food pantries, organizations for foster care support, nursing homes, places like the Ronald McDonald House (where families can stay while a family member is in hospital); just make sure ahead of time that they do. Some may and others may not. It is also good to find out if there are any requirements or restrictions.
For example, cancer caps often need to be made with materials that are softer and sensitive to needs and comfort. Things for children may have needs that do not have small pieces. Things like this may be a good idea to inquire about first from an organization. Sometimes you can find events put on in a community where people can volunteer and share things.
Even if you do not create things by hand, you can help others deliver them, donate supplies, help find places that will accept them, maybe purchase some and donate them
yourself. Congregations, families, brethren, and friends, can work together to share these things with the greater community. What a great way to show love and kindness.
The memories made by spending time together doing good for others can be looked back on fondly.
What is so special about handmade items?
To do these times we sacrifice things like time, and supplies and make the effort to do these things. Depending on our attitude, which is hopefully good, it might not even feel like a sacrifice. Sometimes there are real needs and working together to bring joy and help to those who need it is quite useful and good. Remember all the verses that speak about the widows, poor, fatherless, orphaned, those in need, those in a crisis, those who are struggling, those who are lonely,
What a great way to share and unite people by doing things for them. These principles apply to much more than just handmade items. Teaching these things is investing in others and helping others know that people care about them, which can also take quite a bit of time and patience.
It is easy to say “I do not have time to learn or to teach” if you have a talent. It takes sacrifice and effort to do the types of things I have talked about. Is that not what the Father and Messiah do for us? Care about and take care of us with lots of patience and time required?
How much time gets invested into our day-to-day and not so day-to-day?
Of course, we all have lives and schedules have to work around. There are even times when we have very little of ourselves that we can give. But I submit to you, that even if you do not partake in the crafting itself, just spending time together will be worth it. Who knows, you may be able to benefit from the kindness of one or more of those there who will share with you things that you did not even know you needed. Most of all it it might not even be what the item is but the act itself and kindness shown.
You never know where something may lead and what the Father is working out. Perhaps all that is needed is someone to show YOU time, attention, love, kindness, compassion, or lending an ear. Maybe someone there needs you.
So many gaps in people’s lives can be filled in through crafting. There are so many crafts that any of this can be done. Attending or teaching classes is an excellent way to share and learn.
We can think outside the box and get ideas from so many other people. No one really does everything the same. We are all unique and have different ways of seeing and creating things.
When we spend time together whether it is creating in a group, teaching, or sharing, we are given opportunities to let our light shine. We don’t always know who we are affecting or how much we might be encouraging and inspiring others. Who knows, people who have been overlooked, ignored, left out, and pushed aside may see
Him through you and be moved to be closer to Him as well from your example. We can help others feel seen and genuinely loved.
Our Father and Messiah see all the types of people I have mentioned in this article and more, should we not “see” them too?
A greater purpose
Even if you do not create things by hand, you can simply be present and offer conversation, lend an ear, give ideas, help others deliver items, donate supplies, help find places that will accept, maybe purchase some, and donate them yourself. Congregations, families, brethren, and/or, friends, can work together to share these things with the greater community. Love is not selfish and self-seeking but is selfless and sacrificial. It takes time, love, compassion, humility, and not seeking to elevate yourself to do these. Spending time with others in these ways grows relationships that build and unite a community.
Godly women spend time caring for others as well as themselves and their families. She spends some of her time doing things for others that edify, uplift, and teach to pass talents and character building. A godly woman does what she can to create and be a part of uniting as a community with those around her, especially those nearest to her. It is not to draw attention to herself but for a sincere desire to give of herself in the ways she is blessed with talents and a desire to stretch out her hand. This, my dear sisters, is a wonderful way to live out pure religion.
These are moments that we can positively affect the Body of our Messiah as well as the world around us to unite together in a way that brings glory to our Father.