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Here’s How You Can Help South African Orphans with Comfort and Love

If you can knit just one square – or a hat, handwarmers, or toy — you can help AIDS orphans in South Africa through Knit-a-Square

Somehow, knitting charities that begin with the humble square seems to encourage humble beginnings.

Case in point: Knit-a-Square. This square-based charity all started with an woman in Australia who ached to help the South African orphans her aunt told her about.

According to Knit-a-Square’s website, Sandy McDonald’s aunt Ronda Lowrie told her of one of the biggest needs of the orphaned and vulnerable children living in her country: a chronic shortage of blankets.

While we tend to think of any African country as being scorching hot, in actuality, certain high-altitude communities in South Africa become quite cold at night. Ronda told her niece of handing blankets to cold children at the side of the road at night.

Who wouldn’t be moved and heartbroken at hearing such a tale? Sandy and her husband Roger immediately thought of sharing this plight with knitters and crocheters worldwide, asking for squares that her aunt and friends could then stitch together into blankets for orphans.

If you know anything about knitters and crocheters, you surely know what happened next: Ronda and her friends were soon inundated with knitted and crocheted squares!

Today, thousands of AIDS orphans in South Africa receive not only handmade blankets but also hats and handwarmers, as well as cuddly toys. These cherished gifts not only keep them warm at night but also, more importantly, let them know they’re loved.

The Plight of African AIDS Orphans

In the United States, most think of AIDS as a controlled problem. Yes, it’s still a horrible disease, and it still affects thousands of people. But most Americans think that the HIV/AIDS problem is largely under control.

That’s far from the reality in Africa. On this continent, AIDS remains a problem of epidemic proportion. Millions and millions of children have become AIDS orphans — that is, children under the age of 15 who have lost their parents to AIDS.

Losing a parent is, of course, awful. But in countries like the US or the UK, orphans usually receive care from other family members or the social services network.

In Africa, however, orphans often have no family and no land, and there is no one available to care for them at all. Not only do they lose people they love, but they also lose every ounce of security a child depends on.

Knit-a-Square tries to help with every aspect of this problem. They are more than knitting for charity; they are caring for orphans and preventing very young children from having to raise families.

Looking for more patterns to knit squares? Take a look at 11 Energizing Knitting Stitches — it’s full of fabulous stitch patterns that are perfect for knitting squares!

The Postage Issue

Yes, postage can definitely be problematic when it comes to shipping knitted items for charity to another country.

Given this, I wanted to pass along some essential advice offered to the Knitting for Charity with Nicole Facebook group. Thank you so much to Linda for this tip:

For oversea shipping 2 pounds is the key. Under 2 pounds weight is fairly reasonable. Over 2 pounds is expensive. Sometimes it is worth it to divide your items into smaller packages. Just FYI.

Be sure to note the Knit-a-Square How to Post Your Squares page, too. This page not only offers information about the most economical way to ship squares, but it also offers the shipping address and essential shipping guidelines as well.

How You Can Help

Like most charities, Knit-a-Square can always use financial support! Thanks to the Knit-a-Square Shop, you can not only make purchases to help support the charity, but also give donations based on what you would like to provide.

You’ll also find a Paypal Donation button at the top right of every page of their Square Circle Forum site.

Of course, you’re probably looking for ways to knit, so here’s what you’ll want to do.

Knitted squares
Photo: Knit-a-Square

First, take a look at their What Our Children Need page. Not only will this tell you Knit-a-Square’s most pressing needs, but it will also offer important guidelines. (For instance, note that squares should be 8 x 8 inches, or 20 x 20 centimeters.)

Guidelines specific to squares can be found at the All About Squares page.

Knitted squares
Photo: Knit-a-Square

Need a pattern? You’ll find the official Knit-a-Square pattern book here. You’ll find knitting, crochet, sewing, and even loom knitting patterns!

Lion King knitted square
Photo: Knit-a-Square

In addition to all these, the Square Circle Forum offers inspiration galore in the form of photos, blog posts, and even groups consisting of knitters with something in common (other than knitting!) gathering together to chat.

Knit-a-Square is such an exciting opportunity to help young children suffering from a very real physical problem. Through Knit-a-Square, you can not only offer that essential physical comfort, but all-important emotional comfort as well.


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  1. Hello
    I have been knitting dolls for charity for a few years first when I lived in South Africa they were donated to the Township children. They loved them and it warmed my heart to see the smiles on their faces( I received photos) I would like to donate my dolls to children in need now that I am back in UK would appreciate any help with this. Thank you.. Jean x

  2. Hi there,
    My mom has been in contact with someone in the Karoo, South Africa, and promised to knit wool slippers for the orphanage kids. She cannot find the number or the details of the lady she spoke to but she knows that the person was affiliated with Knitting for charity. She finished about 30 or 40 of these and would like to send them but dont know where to. Can anyone help, please? Email lin.nbprop@gmail.com
    Kind regards

  3. Good Morning Folks,

    My Name is Janet and I am currently knitting squares, my mom asked me to, 🙂

    However I would like to find out if there is a way as a Corporate, We are Santa Fe Relocation Services, to perhaps buy a whole lot of Blankets to donate as well, Please would you let me know
    Thanking you

    1. Hello Karen! I’ve just updated the post to make these answers a little clearer. They need squares 8×8 inches (or 20×20 centimeters). Click on the How to Post Your Squares link to get the best information about shipping, including the address and the sorts of costs you can expect.

  4. I have knit for this organization since it’s inception & I also contribute monetarily. It is a very worthwhile organization & I would encourage people to knit/crochet for them as well as to contribute what they can. One small hint, they are always in need of tapestry needles to knit the blankets together so I try to include a package of these needles in every package I send.

    1. Thank you for sharing, Barbara! Love the tip of adding tapestry needles to every package you send. 👍

  5. Good morning
    Buccleuch Primary School used to knit squares/strips to make blankets which we donated every year.
    in 2020 our learners started their knitting projects just before lockdown. I have a whole lot of half knit squares, wool that I want to donate. are you willing to accept the packets? Can our driver deliver to an addess?
    Sharon Shiers

  6. Where do I send knitted square donations I cants seem to find an address anywhere, yet so want to contribute

  7. Hi—what are the basic instructions for an 8″ square—what weight yarn, needle size, and number of cast on stitches? Thanks so much!

  8. Little confused – can I just knit squares ( 8×8) and send the squares? I dont really like sewing them together.