Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone! I used to think that I hated this holiday, but I’ve come to terms with my gooey, squishy marshmallow interior. For example, I’m wearing a pink/red shirt today! I ordered adorable heart-shaped stitch markers for the shop! And look at these lovely little knit hearts by Susan B. Anderson that I found on Ravelry!
But seriously, I do like Valentine’s Day — I just like to celebrate it my way. No heart-shaped boxes of candy for me, no diamond-studded jewelry, and definitely no trip to the movie theater to watch the latest installment of pre-packaged “romance”. Instead, I’m going to spend quality time with the people I love the most. My mom and sister were my valentines every year when I was growing up, and we always gave each other silly cards and high-end chocolate. (I’m a firm believer in Galentine’s Day, too. True friends are always there for you, and deserve to be celebrated.) Tonight, myself, my family unit, and my most excellent, breakfast-in-bed-making partner are going out for cocktails and tasty appetizers.
This holiday places so much emphasis on a narrow Hallmark definition of love. But I want to encourage all of us to embrace a broader idea of Valentine’s Day. We can celebrate it any way we want — by showing love for ourselves, the planet, our friends, our pets, or humanity in general. With that in mind, I’d like to invite you all to join me in a bit of charitable giving. I’m going to donate the cost of a movie ticket to New Hope for Women, an organization that works against domestic violence in our area. The inspiration for this donation is my frustration with the romanticization of abuse in popular culture. I could talk your ear off about it (and if you want to discuss it with me, let’s grab a drink and talk!) but suffice it to say that I have $10 in my pocket, and would rather give it to New Hope for Women than go watch the glorification of stalking, possessiveness and controlling behavior for 1 hour and 58 minutes.
The countdown to this year’s 24-Hour Community Blanket Knitting Marathon has begun! The yarn (donated by Berroco) is being wound, the roster is all filled up, and the non-profits are busy decorating beautiful boxes in which you can place your non-perishable-food-item votes! This event is one of my favorite Over The Rainbow Yarn community outreach projects, because it feeds the hungry, benefits a local charity, and is just plain fun. The blanket is always beautiful, too. (Have I mentioned lately how much I love knitting with Vintage?) This year, all of the spots filled up really quickly. If you missed out on a chance to sign up, bring a non-perishable food item over to the event to vote, and while you’re there, offer to give someone a little break. When you’re knitting for two hours straight, it’s healthy to stand up and stretch every so often, and the opportunity for a coffee or bathroom break is much appreciated.
We have seven non-profits on board this year, and I don’t know how I’m going to choose who to vote for — I may have to bring enough food items to vote for each one! Let me tell you a little bit about each of the groups:
Area Interfaith Outreach: AIO runs our local food pantry and offers emergency assistance. They try to make sure that no one goes cold or hungry, which is a tough job in our community where more than a quarter of the schoolchildren don’t know where their next meal will come from. AIO sends backpacks of food home with kids on the weekends, distributes the lovely mittens that you all knit for our annual mitten tree, and makes sure that when things get tough, families have enough food on the table. http://www.aiofoodpantry.org/index.html
Midcoast Habitat for Humanity: This local chapter of Habitat for Humanity International works to build homes for low-income families in Knox County. Their vision is “A world where everyone has a decent place to live”, and they get the community involved in making it happen. Finding decent, affordable housing in the midcoast can be a big challenge, and Habitat for Humanity is stepping in to help provide a safe roof over the heads of families in need. http://www.midcoasthabitat.org/
OUT Maine: OUT Maine/Out As I Want to Be works to support LGBTQ teens and youth in the community. They offer a safe space and educational services, and are “passionately committed to creating a welcoming and affirming Midcoast Maine”. One of their main goals is reducing harassment and bullying in schools, which can make a huge difference in a teen’s life. http://outmaine.org/
Pope Memorial Humane Society: Pope Memorial is a fantastic humane society that goes the extra mile for the animals that come through their doors. They’re a no-kill shelter, and they often are able to reconnect lost animals with their humans. The folks who work there really care, and are great at promoting responsible pet ownership. They give homeless animals a chance at a forever home. https://www.humanesocietyofknoxcounty.org/
Rockland District Nursing Association: RDNA provides “in-home nursing and community health services” to people in our community who might not otherwise have access to medical care. They offer financial assistance to those who can’t afford the services they need, and work to assist the elderly to live at home for as long as possible. http://rocklanddistrictnursing.com/
Trekkers: Trekkers is a mentoring program with an emphasis on outdoor adventure. They connect students with caring adults and take them on trips to expand their horizons. Trekkers emphasizes the importance of a providing a steady presence in their students’ lives, working with them from 7th grade through graduation. Local teens are given wonderful opportunities to learn about cultural diversity and community service. http://trekkers.org/
Please come out with a non-perishable food item (or several!) this Friday or Saturday to vote for one of these incredible non-profits! Help make this year’s Blanket Marathon a success!