Never rely on hearsay. I, of all people, should know that by now.
Well, the hearsay evidence was good evidence...it was just outdated evidence. Since the time I received that evidence, MANY MORE SCARVES came in.
I got home from work yesterday, and there was a message on my voicemail, left at shortly after 9 a.m., from Karen of the OFA. She had read my blog entry, and was stifling a laugh whilst she gave me the real final number. Is this your final answer, Karen?!
I am so stunned by this number that I hardly have the strength to write this, but you all deserve to know what an incredibly wonderful job you did.
Are you sitting down?
We just rock the house so totally hard. I really, really, REALLY am stunned by this and I thank you all so very, very much. As Karen says, "Finally, some good news out of Virginia."
I was ruminating: "What if we each sent in a dollar or two with each of our scarves? We could totally start a Knitbloggers Red Scarf Scholarship."
That was just a little thinking out loud and a totally unauthorized aside. But kind of a cool thought, no? The young women Gale and I met in New Hampshire told us about some of the most amazing things the OFA does for them. It helps them with rent, helps them with utility costs if they have their own apartments, helps them obtain car loans, of course helps them with tuition. The Foundation helps them, helps them, helps them. And the OFA is one of those organizations that spends the bulk of its resources not on hefty administrative costs, but on fulfilling its mission. It's been rated 4 stars by charitynavigator. I'm a total fan. Honestly.
In chatting with Karen, who called me again after I got home from work, I heard her loud-and-clear thank yous. The appreciation is warm and genuine.
It was a veritable tsunami of knitting and crocheting love. However, in the future, we, of necessity, must turn that tsunami of love into a more manageable wave. There is a surplus of scarves still, which actually surpasses the number of the original goal, and they are being stored until next season. The OFA located other social work agencies around the country and identified ones that were willing to take some of the surplus scarves, so that the desire of the knitter or crocheter that the scarves go to foster children was met. They didn't want to just send them to other random charities -- they wanted to meet the mandate of the knitters and crocheters. However, this effort came at great cost to them. It took many days of labor and over $5,000 in expenses to package and ship the excess scarves. They still have 3,500 left in storage to be used this fall or in Red Scarf 2008.
So in order to make things more manageable, Red Scarf 2008 will be undergoing some changes. The OFA will be posting their new guidelines hopefully in May. They are working on a new website, and as soon as it is up and operational, Karen will call me and I will let you know about it.
In order to keep the numbers at a more manageable level, the OFA will be asking knitters or crocheters to register on their new site, and commit to a number of scarves of their choosing, but each individual will be limited to not more than 10. This is in order to allow more people to participate, while at the same time limiting the total number of scarves received to a reasonable one.
Another element of the new website will be a button for making a tax-deductible donation (completely voluntary) so that the OFA can include gift cards in the packages. The students -- as any parent or grandparent or aunt or uncle will know already-- highly appreciate the gift cards to various eateries, bookstores, etc.
I'm personally thinking about a donation in the following sense: I know that several of the scarves I made last year were in the $40-$50 range each in cost for the yarn. I will probably only make one scarf this year -- focusing on quality, not quantity -- and I can therefore put some money toward a sure-to-be-appreciated gift card or to help defray the shipping expenses to the OFA.
The deadline will be much, much earlier this time. We are looking at the packages arriving in their office between September 1-October 15, 2007. This will allow them time to unpack, organize, catalog, repackage, and send out the packages -- again, without overwhelming their staff, their amazing volunteers, their local postal workers, and their shippers, the wonderful FedEx that sponsored so much of their shipping.
While it would seem to many of us that scarves would be a great winter holiday gift -- and I mentioned that to Karen -- she said that because many of their students are not in the dorms at that time, and FedEx will not just leave a package without someone to receive it, it becomes problematic, so the Valentine's package is really the most desirable one.
We would like to ask everyone to concentrate on quality, not quantity, and we must reiterate some important things:
- Unisex, unisex, unisex. (the majority of scarves received were more feminine than masculine, and that makes the task of sorting that much more difficult) Ask yourself if your son, your brother, your husband, your less-frilly girl would enjoy receiving the scarf you are knitting or crocheting. They will be posting links to a few free downloadable patterns (and we are asking you to bring some of these to our attention if you know of any, or if you are a designer, are you willing to design a unisex scarf pattern for the project?) and to try to stick to those patterns, or ones similar. Relative uniformity, without being boring, is the idea. They would like all their recipients to feel absolutely thrilled with their gift on all levels -- fabric, style, color.
- Soft. Very soft yarns, please.
- No laceweight, super-chunky, or mohair yarns. (there are many people who find mohair too itchy, for example) Preferably DK, doubled fingering-weight, worsted weight, or light bulky yarns. It is hard for us knitters to remember sometimes that not all can appreciate scratchy wool, itchy mohair, and scratchy acrylics, but we must put ourselves in the mindset of the non-knitter. The OFA wishes the scarves to be substantial, drapey and warm, but not heavy and rug-like, and not scratchy.
- No stockinette scarves or other stitches that are notorious for curling.
- Save the Fun Fur for your chemo-cap knitting, please.
So I will leave you with this to chew on for now, and hope you will accept it with the great understanding that I am confident you will. As soon as I get word that the new website is operational and that you should be going in to register your intentions, I will, of course, announce it. I hope we can all embrace the changes, understand the need for them, and knit and crochet on, with gusto and love.
If you haven't already read Kay's post of yesterday, go have a look. "...a miter and a dream." I love that woman.