Shipping days–those days when I pack up items that I’ve worked on for weeks or months and ship them to the organizations that will distribute them to their eventual recipients are always special days. It’s a little bit like the days leading up to Christmas when I shop or finish up projects and wrap them and stick them under the tree while my mind pulses with images of the recipients enjoying the gifts. 

With donations, I’ve usually participated enough with the organization receiving things or with the group making things to know what is needed or wanted so when I send items off I have a good idea of who the recipient will be – child – adult – elderly person – animal shelter – etc. 

In the case of the above shipment, the items all went to the Sacred Shawl Society, a domestic violence shelter that serves the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Though the shelter distributes items to people who come to the shelter escaping domestic violence, they also serve as a place where the nurses who visit new babies on the reservation can come to get items that their clients need…like blankets, formula, and so on. Kimmie, the shelter director networks with schools and other organizations on the reservation and sometimes supplies items for those organizations as well. This makes the Sacred Shawl Society one of my favorite Pine Ridge Reservation organizations to donate to. 

Not only that, but there’s a great group of wonderful, giving, charitable people who shop for, sew for, knit for, and crochet for the kids on Pine Ridge at Sew For Kids Volunteers.  The pictures, chatter, and encouragement that goes on on a daily basis on this Facebook Group keeps me motivated and sewing, loom knitting, crocheting, and even buying a few items to tuck into the boxes I send. 

This shipment included 2 crocheted baby blankets, 12 loom knitted hats, two store-bought dollies, 2 store-bought monkeys, 4 store-bought pairs of toddler size mittens, and a sample box from Similac. I have no idea what’s in the Similac box. My niece received it when she was pregnant with my great nephew, but he came five weeks early and had trouble gaining weight at first, so they put him on a special formula for preemies while he was still in the hospital. I figured whatever is in the Similac box, the folks at Sacred Shawl can use it. 

This is the first shipment of this year. I still have a bin which is full of items that will go to the elderly on the reservation. Those items are shipped to a different address so didn’t go with this shipment. 

Last year, just after Thanksgiving, I sent out all of the donations at once. Once all my bins were empty I felt a bit bereft and had a hard time getting back into the swing of things.  So I decided that this year I’ll send things in smaller boxes…and spread them out between the different organizations that serve the Pine Ridge Reservation, that way there will be something left to seed the box. 

I’m not exactly thrilled with my productivity this year. It’s been a busy year personally and professionally and I’ve spent a lot of time recalibrating the balance between work and home time so that there will be more time for quilting/crafting going forward. I’ve not been as productive this year as I was last year…but I’ve still managed to warm 12 heads, two babies, and provide mittens for four toddlers with cold hands and some baby dolls and monkeys for kids that might come to the shelter after witnessing violence with this one shipment. It may not be as much as I did last year…but it’s still something…and I’m not finished. There’s still more to send out…and I’m still working on items that will be sent out later this year and early next year. I don’t intend to stop making and donating things as long as I’m breathing so I’m not really beating myself up as much as wanting to recalibrate so that there is more time for quilting/sewing/looming/and so on. 

When dealing with charity giving, especially in an area like the Pine Ridge Reservation where the level of poverty is extreme and the level of need great it is easy to become frustrated by the sense that you can’t do enough. In a sense, it is true that most of us alone do lack the resources to provide for all of the needs…even if we wanted to. But we can each do a little bit to help those in need whether they are in our own neighborhoods, on an Indian reservation somewhere, or are half the world away in a refugee camp. 

I believe the ENERGY of giving is important. Kindnesses and unkindnesses in all of their forms create ripples, not unlike the ripples created by dropping a rock into a placid pond. The ripples from one pebble dropping create multiple rings of ripples that radiate outward. When we or someone else does something kind (or unkind) it creates another set of ripples which also radiate outward. As each of us contributes our kindness or unkindness to the greater collective more and more circles of radiating ripples are formed and together all those radiating ripples either make things better or make them worse – depending upon whether there is more kindness or more unkindness. 

Especially now when there is a lot of violence, ugliness, and unkindness in the world around us, it seems even more important than normal to do our bits…to drop our rocks of kindness into the pond so that they can radiate outward touching off additional kindnesses. The ripples of kindness are most assuredly needed.