36 Fantastic, Free Ways to Knit for Shoebox Collection Charities

This collection of free knitting patterns features 36 fabulous ways to fill a shoebox for charity

Early autumn (or for some of us ambitious types, late summer!) is the time when many of us are ready to begin our holiday knitting. For charity knitters, the holidays are a time when we are especially eager to make life a little brighter for someone in need.

That’s why I published this post listing the many shoebox collection charities that we can contribute to. Shoebox collection charities, or “shoebox charities,” are those special programs that collect boxes full of goodies and then distribute them to people in need.

Those people are often children, but they don’t have to be! Some recipients include American soldiers overseas, needy families, and elderly folks.

Now that you know where you can send or drop off these little boxes of goodness, I thought you might also enjoy finding some free knitting patterns! These patterns are all perfect for one (or more) of the charities in the blog post linked above.

Where possible and applicable, I’ve listed the shoebox charity(ies) that each pattern would be suitable for. I hope these will help spark ideas for filling and packing a shoebox.

Washcloths for Shoebox Collection Charities

I’m not sure there’s a single shoebox charity that exists that won’t accept washcloths. They are endlessly useful and nearly always needed! Be sure to knit them in cotton, linen, or bamboo to make them absorbent. Some delightful washcloth patterns include:

Washcloth for Africa (with an adorable picture of Africa!)
Leafy Washcloth (in the shape of a leaf)
Sunburst Dishcloth (a lovely sunburst design)
Washcloth That Holds Soap Bars (a textured pocketed washcloth that does just as it says!)
Heart Washcloth (yep, a cloth in the shape of a heart!)

Toys for Shoebox Collection Charities

These are gratefully accepted by most charities serving children, including Operation Christmas Child, Link to Hope, Santa’s Shoebox, Help for Orphans International, and Ramadaan Shoebox Project. There are, of course, thousands of free knitting patterns for toys available online, but these are some of the most popular (and most likely to become a greatly-loved companion):

Bluebird of Happiness (which of course doesn’t have to be blue!)
Knubbelchen (a sweet, soft doll pattern in 4 languages)
Henry’s Bunny (an adorable bunny that fits in the palm of a child’s hand)
Beans the Cat (a simple, snuggly cat)
Hedgehog (yep, just a super-cute hedgehog)
Owl Puffs (simple and adorable)
Magic Loop Teddy (seriously cute bear designed to be knitted Magic Loop style)
Tarragon the Gentle Dragon (the cuddliest dragon ever)

Hairclips for Operation Christmas Child

Operation Christmas Child suggests hairclips for school-aged girls. Hairclips are incredibly easy to make! Just knit any kind of pretty applique – a flower, a heart, a bow – and attach it to a metal snap clip. I attach it by leaving a long tail on the applique and wrapping the tail around the top part of the snap clip, then reattaching the tail to the applique and weaving the end in. They often take less than an hour to make!

Here are some appliques you could knit to attach to a snap clip:

She Sells Sea Shells on the Seashore
Knitted Flower Tutorial
Coming Up Roses
Heart of It All
Cute Little Stars
Easy Knit Butterfly (This is a video tutorial, but it’s very easy to follow)

Socks for Operation Christmas Child and Link to Hope

Operation Christmas Child and Link to Hope will both accept knitted socks. For Link to Hope, you’ll want to include socks for the whole family since this is for a family box. If socks tickle your fancy, you probably already have a favorite pattern, but if not, here are two simple patterns you can choose from.

Baby Socks
Slumberjacks (bed socks for adults, great for new-to-socks knitters)

Mittens for Operation Christmas Child and Link to Hope

Operation Christmas Child and Link to Hope both also take mittens; again, as with socks, if you want to make mittens for Link to Hope, you should be prepared to make a family of mittens. Also like with socks, you likely have a favorite mitten pattern if you enjoy mitten knitting, but if not, here are a few simple patterns to try.

Baby Mitts
Basic Pattern for Children’s Mittens
Warmest Mittens
Lightning Fast Mittens
Mittens for All

Hats for Link to Hope and Operation Shoebox

Link to Hope (Elderly Shoebox) and Operation Shoebox both take hats. When knitting hats for these charities, simple and basic are nearly always best. Operation Shoebox has its own knitting pattern (shown below), and if you want to knit for them, you should stick with their pattern.

When knitting for Link to Hope’s Elderly Shoebox, strive to make it as unisex as possible, because boxes are not sorted before distribution. Stick with gender-neutral colors (black, dark blue, brown, tan, cream).

Operation Shoebox Knit Skull Cap (Scroll down to “Craft Patterns,” click the link for the “caps pattern,” then scroll down for knitting pattern)
Classic Cuffed Hat
Turn a Square (note: this pattern does require a free subscription to the Brooklyn Tweed newsletter. If you don’t wish to sign up, the pattern is still available at a low price.)
Two by Two

Christmas Stockings for Operation Shoebox

Operation Shoebox sends Christmas stockings to troops every December. Their website offers a sewing pattern; if you’d prefer to knit a Christmas stocking, here are a few simple patterns.

GoodKnit’s Christmas Stocking (a simple 2-color stocking with cuff one color and body another)
Red Heart’s Christmas Stocking (simple striped stocking)
Red Heart’s Christmas Stocking 2 (similar to the first Red Heart stocking, but with a fleur-de-lis pattern in the cuff)

If you’re excited by knitting items for shoebox charities, I hope this collection of free knitting patterns has inspired you!

Free knitting patterns for shoebox collection charities

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    1. Hi Miriam, I’m not sure what you want paper copies of, but I’m not able to send paper copies. I would recommend visiting a library, which often offers printing services to the public for a nominal fee.

  1. I knit for a local charity all year. Every time I buy yarn for a project I get “a little extra” for my effort I named “The Mitten Project”. I knit one pair every week and at the end of the year, I donate all 50 pairs to a charity for local children. Since 2004 I’ve donated over 700 pairs (I was short a few one year due to illness) of mittens. It’s my own pattern, made up of what I liked from other patterns, and they’ll fit sizes from infant (no thumbs) to 12-year old. Friends give me yarn, either from a stash or they were in a store and there was a sale… As long as we’re keeping little (or big) hands warm, it’s all good!

    1. This is amazing, Louise! Thank you for all you do and for sharing it with us. I’ve no doubt someone will be inspired by your words today! ❤

  2. it is so nice of you Nicole to do what you do . Your patterns ideas etc helps us get started helping the needy people who need what we make. I do not have much money to give but I am a knitter and crocheter who gives to charity all year. I have been donating about 40 yrs now on and off. I am 73 so have helped a lot of people. At least I like to think that. keep up the good work

    1. Thank you, Nina! So kind of you to say. I’m so impressed by everything you do. Keep up the good work yourself – I have no doubt that you have indeed helped many people! ❤