How Your Knitting Can Help Families in America’s Most Poverty-Stricken Region

Your charity knitting to Aid to Appalachia can offer love and support to impoverished Americans

Aid to Appalachia

How does the world’s wealthiest nation have such immense pockets of poverty?

That’s not a question I can adequately answer, although I know that many people much smarter than I am have tried. What I can do is what I know we all want to do as charity knitters: offer help.

All across the US, people are living in poverty. People who have to decide between buying food or buying necessary medicine. Even people who have to decide which utility bill they’re going to pay that month or how they’ll be able to pay that month’s rent.

And in the part of the country known as Appalachia, the poverty rate is at one of the nation’s worst levels. Rampant unemployment in the region, particularly in West Virginia and Kentucky, has contributed to desperate situations for many who live here.

Other contributing factors include a lack of public services and a lack of infrastructure, especially telecommunications.

A charity knitting group called Aid to Appalachia evolved out of this desire to help the families in the Appalachian region.

From Outreach to Appalachia to Aid to Appalachia

In August 2011, a knitter on Ravelry named Lora stumbled upon a defunct charity knitting group that focused on items for people in McDowell County, West Virginia.

She decided to revitalize the mission of the old group and begin a new group, based at Ravelry, which she named Outreach to Appalachia (or O2A for short). The group found a focus group to which they could contribute knitted items called Appalachian Outreach.

Every month they focus on one type of clothing items to send to Appalachian Outreach based on their stated needs.

In 2016, Lora left Ravelry and turned the reins over to a co-moderator named Terry. Terry, in turn, formed a new group called Aid to Appalachia and invited Outreach to Appalachia’s members to return to their mission. And, of course, they did!

This group is a wonderful way to benefit a part of the country that really needs any assistance it can receive.

How You Can Help

Aid to Appalachia is a Ravelry group, which means that if you want to join, you’ll need to join Ravelry first. Once you’ve joined Ravelry, you can hop right into the group.

Don’t feel that you have to make anything immediately once you’ve joined the group. Aid to Appalachia prides itself on being stress-free and no-pressure. As Terry wrote in a Welcome post, “We do what we can, but we are a no stress, no guilt zone, whether you knit, crochet, sew, spin, or cheerlead – all is important and appreciated.”

You can find the current projects of the group in the pinned threads. As of this writing, projects are donated to Appalachian Outreach, CAPCO of Cortland County, and Groton Elementary School Winter Warm-Up.

You can send finished items directly to either Appalachian Outreach or Terry herself. You’re encouraged, of course, to post photos in the Ravelry group and share what you’re donating.

Patterns, project ideas, shipping information, and lots of great company and conversation are all found right in the Aid to Appalachia discussion forum.

So if you’d like to make a difference for some of the most desperately needy folks in America, I hope you’ll consider contributing your charity knitting to Aid to Appalachia!

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  1. I would be happy to knit items for Aud to Appalachia. Please let me know what the next step is to get started.
    Sandy Greenbaum

    1. Hi Sandy! The first step is to go to the Aid to Appalachia Ravelry page. (Unless you’re not a Ravelry member yet–then the first step will be to join Ravelry.)
      Here is the Aid to Appalachia Ravelry page: https://www.ravelry.com/groups/aid-to-appalachia
      If you aren’t a member (or aren’t logged in), you’ll see the sign-up/login page for Ravelry rather than the Aid to Appalachia page. If you’re a member, log in; if not, sign up for Ravelry. When you’re signed up, you can come back here and click on the link to the Aid to Appalachia Ravelry page.
      I hope this helps!

  2. I have skeins of yarn in pink, white and blue to donate. Can anyone use them? I’ll ship.

  3. I joined Ravelry to become a member of the Outreach to Applalachia group and it was not on the site . .. I’m confused.

    1. Katie, I’m not sure what to tell you. I double-checked the link in the article and did a search at Ravelry and was able to reach the group both ways. Try clicking the little question-mark tab near the top of the screen from any Ravelry page and see if you can get some help through the support page. If that doesn’t help, try one of the “Contact Us” methods at the bottom of the Ravelry support page.

    2. Hi Katie, Go to the group tab and put in Outreach to Appalachia. Then you can join the group. They are a great group. Hope you are able to find it.
      SSeger on Ravelry

  4. Thank you so VERY much for this article! I’m Lora, the founder of O2A on Ravelry! I so appreciate helping to get the word out! We definitely have something for everyone!