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5 Charity Groups Dedicated to Knitting and Crocheting Prayer Shawls

Blogger and author Kathryn Vercillo is an expert in the area of using crafting to heal, having researched the topic extensively for her book Crochet Saved My Life. In this post she shares five charity groups who heal themselves and others through Prayer Shawl Crafting, along with tips and information for crafting prayer shawls whether you consider yourself spiritual or not. Read Kathryn’s previous blog posts on the Lion Brand Notebook http://www.lionbrand.com/wordpress/author/kathrynvercillo/.

prayershawlgroupWhen you knit or crochet a prayer shawl, you set an intention for the person receiving it to heal. You weave a positive thought into each stitch. As you do this, you not only bring healing to the recipient of the gift, you also bring healing to yourself. Learn more about how prayer shawls heal self and others here.

It doesn’t matter whether or not you are religious; it is the act of intentional crafting that soothes the soul. Don’t pray? Get inspiration for secular prayer shawl crafting here.

There are many different ways to donate prayer shawls, but one of the most common options is to join a group that is engaged in prayer shawl crafting. These groups are often, but not always, based in hospitals or churches. To get the most out of prayer shawl crafting, you should choose a group with a mission that touches your heart. These five groups, a combination of secular and spiritual groups, are examples of people who are doing this work today.

Did you know that there are more than two dozen free knit and crochet prayer shawl patterns on the Lion Brand Yarn website? You can search for them in Pattern Finder by selecting “prayer shawls” under “what do you want to make?” in the Category section.

1. HealthEast Care System

This is a Minnesota-based health care system comprised of several hospitals and clinics. They have a prayer shawl ministry through which volunteers can knit, crochet, sew or quilt both shawls and blankets that are given to patients as “a gift of support and healing”. They say, “when the shawls or blankets are left with a patient, it leaves a tangible example of our care and blessings”.

HealthEast Care System has a monthly prayer shawl craft meeting for volunteers who want to knit alongside others. This community spirit can be healing and supportive for all who are involved. However, they also accept knit and crochet donations from people who work on their own at home and send in what they make. They have specific requirements regarding materials (such as only using acrylic yarn) that are based on the needs of their community. Additionally, this group accepts monetary donations to the group, which are used for the purchase of supplies.

2. Wings Prayer Shawl Ministry for Cancer

The Wings Cancer Foundation is a Memphis-based organization that provides fee-free assistance to anyone whose life has been touched by cancer. From free wigs and breast prosthesis to a monthly healing art group called HeARTwork to yoga, support groups and clinical research, their support truly runs the gamut to help those in need.

The Wings Prayer Shawl Ministry grew “out of the desire to combine the healing power of prayer with the healing ministry of human touch”. They believe that the shawl can serve as a sort of hug for the recipient even when no other individuals are around. They accept donations of prayer shawls. They also host weekly meetings for people who want to craft in community, learning craft skills from one another while intentionally crafting for people with cancer.

3. Y.A.R.N. at Bethany United Methodist Church

Y.A.R.N. is an example of a traditional church-based religious prayer shawl craft group. The acronym stands for “You Are Really Needed”, a group of parishioners who meet for two and a half hours each week to create prayer shawls for people in need. The shawls are given to members of the church as well as to others in the community. They are infused with prayer and are made by people who have been moved by God to gift to others in this way. This Wisconsin-based group makes prayer shawls through knitting, crochet and quilting. They say that the purpose of a prayer shawl “is to prove assurance of God’s caring presence and encouragement for hope in all circumstances”. They have also done other prayer crafting work, such as creating prayerful preemie hats to send to children in need in Haiti.

4. Military Families Ministry

This ministry was launched by two mother who were terrified when their kids went off to war and really needed a support network that wasn’t there. They created that network for all of the military families across the United States, regardless of the branch of the military. They are a non-political group that does not take a stance for or against war but instead serves to assist all members of the military family in coping with what it means when someone goes off to serve in this way.

They collect knit and crochet prayer shawls from various groups and volunteers. In addition to shawls, they also collect “prayer patches”. These are small reminders that can be carried in a pocket, whether it’s a military uniform pocket or the pocket of a young child who has a parent away on deployment. The patch is a tangible symbol that someone out there cares and is praying for the family. They accept donations of shawls and patches (rules for making them are available on their website) and they also accept yarn donations.

When an item is donated, they will pray upon it as a ministry before it is sent to the recipient. This is another great option for people who want to donate prayer shawls but aren’t religious or don’t pray themselves. Some of those people are comfortable letting people who do pray make the prayer over the finished item that they donate. There are just so many ways to give this kind of comfort, whether you consider yourself spiritual or not!

5. Shawl Ministry

This is a group that was founded in 1998 by two women who had just graduated from the Women’s Leadership Institute at The Hartford Seminary in Connecticut. They had seen firsthand how “compassion and the love of knitting / crocheting have been combined into a prayerful ministry and spiritual practice which reaches out to those in need of comfort and solace, as well as in celebration and joy”.

The Shawl Ministry offers a wealth of information about prayer shawls on their website, including how to start your own prayer shawl group in the community. They offer tips, news and inspirational stories about prayer shawl crafting. They also keep a prayer shawl ministry page with information about a variety of other groups that are accepting prayer shawl donations.

Where do you share prayer shawls? Tell us about your prayer shawl group in the comments below! You can also find charities that are currently seeking prayer shawl donations by using the Lion Brand Charity Connection.

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  • Cindy

    Our church group, Knit and Kneel, meets weekly to knit and crochet prayer shawls and baby blankets. We feel that wrapping somebody in a shawl or a baby in a blanket is like a hug, not only from us, but from God. Wesley Methodist Church is in South Plainfield, NJ and we would love to have anybody join us.

  • Karen L.S. Robinson

    After my mom died 4 years ago I started donating my shawls to the wonderful Hospice organization who guided us through the illness and her passing. I include a note with each shawl saying it was made in memory of my mom who was also a hospice patient.

  • Jean

    I also am a part of our church prayer blanket/shawl ministry. I had an idea for a shawl, but have no idea how to make it work. I saw it on a narrow (maybe 4 inches) shawl like a minister wears over his robe. It was worked as two pineapple stitches coming sideways out of the middle back. The effect was angel wings. I thought it would be lovely to crochet and let people feel "hugged" by the angels. Any ideas on how to make one?

  • Judith Madden

    I crochet prayer shawls for a breast cancer group. Love doing this. also in the fall crochet lapghans. always looking for more crocheters to help with all of this

  • Melissa

    Are there any prayer shawl groups in Sacramento, CA?

  • Wendy Imbrogno Fisher

    Looking for other groups I the area of Otisville, NY. We are a prayer shawl group based out of the Otisville-Mt.Hope Presbyterian Church in Otisville, NY. We meet the 2nd Tuesday of the month at 6:30pm. All welcome! Donations accepted. Www.otisvilepres.org and on Facebook as Otisvillepres, thank yo, Wendy.

  • Cass

    We are the Prayer Shawl Ministry Of St. Mary's Catholic Church. We are still fairly young in that we have only started 2 1/2 yrs ago. It was through the Lion brand site that I learned about prayer shawls. Making a shawl for a parish member in poor health lead to the our pastor asking me to organize a group and I did. It has been a blessing for all 8 of us crocheting the shawls and those receiving them. It is part of who I am and my mission to make the prayers shawls and I thank Lion Brand for the information and inspiration.

  • Eva

    Our prayer shawl ministry at church was started 3 1/2 years ago. To date we have given away over 100 shawls and lap blankets. We are a very small group and God has truly blessed our efforts. Like the widow's jar of oil, we have never run short of shawls. Recipients have expressed how loved and comforted they feel when they wear the shawls. Our only wish is for more participants.

  • Leona Olson

    I am with a group of ladies from my church.

  • Judie

    We have a prayer shawl ministry at our church called Hands In Service (HIS). We knit, crochet, sew -- our group has many talented women in it. Besides prayer shawls, we make blankets for baptisms and Project Linus, newborn hats for Hats 4 Hope and adult hats for the homeless. We meet every 2nd Tuesday of the month at 6:30 PM in Fountain Hills, Arizona.