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How to Plant a Mitten Tree & Help Warm Families in Need

Want to knit for local families in need? Consider planting a mitten tree

Mitten Tree

One of my favorite things about charity knitting is that you can help people from anywhere in the world with it.

I love international knitting — how exciting to help people across the world whom you’ll never meet!

I love nationwide knitting — how tremendous to help your fellow citizens!

And I adore local knitting. To me it’s one of the fullest embodiments of “love your neighbor.” Or, to use a quote from one of my favorite animated movies, “See a need, fill a need.”*

So many knitters are eager to help others with their knitting but aren’t sure how. And most of the knitters I hear from personally really want to help their own communities.

If you’re just such a knitter, seeking a pathway to knit for your community, I’d like to introduce to you the concept of a mitten tree.

*If you’ve never seen the movie “Robots,” you should. It’s super cute and silly, and it includes vocal performances from two of my favorite comic actors – Robin Williams and Drew Carey!

Eager to knit for charity but unsure where to start?
Click here to sign up for my free email course, Getting Started with Charity Knitting, and subscribe to the free Knitting Nuggets Newsletter.

If you live in Michigan and love to knit mittens, Mittens for Detroit is a great charity to knit for. Check out my article about this wonderful group! 

Plant a Mitten Tree

Since 2002, the Church of the Gesu in Milwaukee has “planted” a mitten tree.

They plant the tree at the beginning of the Advent season, and parishioners decorate the tree with mittens. Before Christmas, the Church gives the mittens to the area shelter for homeless families.

What a beautiful way for a community to gather together and help its less fortunate residents!

You can borrow their idea, or even expand upon it and plant your own mitten tree for a shelter in your community.

Step 1: Gather a group of friends, church or community members who would like to knit for charity.

Step 2: With volunteers in hand, contact a local homeless shelter or volunteer organization and explain to them what you would like to do. See if they have need for and interest in donated mittens.

Step 3: Got volunteers? Got your recipients lined up? Now it’s time to start knitting!

While collection would most logically happen early winter, a project like this is most successful if it operates year-round. This way, you’ll have plenty of time to make your items.

Of course, there’s no need to restrict yourself to mittens. You could instead plant a tree that “grows” any item of clothing that will keep children and their families warm. Your group could knit caps, toboggans, scarves, leg warmers, sweaters, or socks.

There’s also no need to restrict this activity to knitters! You may find that non-knitters will enjoy purchasing the needed items and adding them to the tree. (We know it’s more fun to knit them, of course. 😉)

So if you’re looking for an opportunity to knit for your own community, why not plant a hand-knitted mitten tree?

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