How to Welcome New Families to America through a Gift of Love

Welcome BlanketWould you like to welcome new families to the country, rather than shut them out? If so, join the  Welcome Blanket Project and you can do just that

The plights of refugees and migrants have laid heavily on my heart for years. In fact, it has ever since I first read a blog post by author Ann Voskamp about some of the horrible atrocities violent extremists committed in Syria and Iraq.

Unfortunately, the article doesn’t appear to be online anymore. But it opened my eyes to the horrors people around the world face. People who weren’t fortunate enough to be born into one of the safest and most comfortable countries in the world.

People who were tortured and/or killed because they wouldn’t change their religion. Or embrace the warped form of religious offered by terrorists.

A friend on Twitter wrote poignantly about some of the terrors of life in Honduras. This opened my eyes further. Plagued by drug-running gangs, neighbors of her own family had already been threatened with death if they didn’t join one gang or another. Many such threats were carried out.

I don’t like writing about such things, much less thinking about them. Sometimes it’s all I can do to read about them. You don’t know how much I sometimes long to turn away. To pretend such things aren’t happening. That they’re some hideous nightmare.

But once you hear about the evil that humans can and often do to one another, I’ve found that I can’t pretend.

Can Charity Knitting Really Do Good in the Face of Such Evil?

No, of course hats or scarves or blankets can’t keep broken people from continuing to inflict pain on innocent lives. But what we can do to make a difference is to tend to the survivors.

As I wrote about extensively in this guest blog post for Real World Bible Study, one of the greatest needs for anyone suffering is simply to be seen. That’s especially true, I suspect, when that suffering has come at the hands of another.

This is why I have written extensively about knitting charities that respond to the needs of refugees. These include Knit Aid, Allied Aid, Hats and More for War-Torn Syria, and more. (You can see a complete listing of the articles I’ve written about refugee knitting charities here.)

An American Issue

But here in the United States, we have our own issues. I’ve written before about my disagreement with the American government’s stance on immigration. In particular, I’ve been distressed at how our government seems to be making it harder and harder for migrants and refugees to rebuild their lives in the United States.

I believe our government is currently spending too much of its precious resources filling pockets of people who really don’t need further filling. Consequently, we’re shutting our country’s doors to people who may most desperately need to enter.

(I promise this is as much as I’m going to say about my country’s politics! I find political talk as distasteful as anyone.)

That’s why, when I first heard about the Welcome Blanket Project, I was so incredibly moved.

The Welcome Blanket concept is simple: take the proposed 2,000-mile border wall between the United States and Mexico, and reimagine it in fabric. Specifically, in blankets.

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The Welcome Blanket Project: Reimagining a Border Wall as a Welcoming Wall of Blankets

This project began in the spring of 2017, as its cofounders imagined a beautiful welcoming “wall” of blankets to greet new immigrants to the U.S. Each blanket would be handcrafted and filled with the love of its creators. Welcome Blanket encouraged creators to include a note of welcome along with the creator’s own immigration family story.

Last year, the finished blankets appeared in the Smart Museum of Art at the University of Chicago. You can see photos of many blankets, as well as the exhibition itself, here.

I almost forgot to tell you the best part! The blankets aren’t just for display purposes. Each blanket will go to a new immigrant family to the United States. I think this is an amazing way to welcome a new family to this country!

This Year’s Welcome Blanket Project

Welcome Blanket has a new project this year! A new exhibition will be shown at the Museum of Design Atlanta in Georgia. This exhibit will run from June 3 to September 9, 2018. The deadline to send in a blanket and note for the exhibit is August 25.

That probably means you won’t have a chance to send a blanket to the Welcome Blanket Project if you start today. Unless you’re an amazingly fast knitter, of course! But my hunch is that this project is going to continue for quite a while. I’ve already started making blanket squares in anticipation of creating at least one blanket for next year’s project!

For more information — including guidelines for creating blankets — visit the Welcome Blanket website.

This project is exactly what my aching heart needs. If you, too, would like to welcome a new family in yarn, I hope you will also consider making a blanket!

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