Wednesday, December 8, 2010

a glimpse of the basement

For those who may be wondering, here is a glimpse of what awaited Ann and volunteers ( Chris on the far right above) during a recent packing shift in the basement these days. That afternoon, we were all so busy that I forgot to take photos of people and of the gorgeous wool garments we got to discover; but piles of boxes are good too, right?

As you can see, the space occupied by a4A packages and volunteers is crowded; also, there is no shelving or space to store garments for the long term. The basement belongs to the AFSC office of San Francisco which needs it to store a number of supplies for its multiple outreach activities, so space is at a premium and it is important to focus only on what needs to be packed for the current campaign. Before I got a chance to volunteer in the basement, I pictured something like a large food bank. As you can see, it is nothing like that.

When in doubt about the requirements of a given campaign for children and teen clothing -- which is often because my own chidren are grown -- I consult the size standards here . I usually add 1" in length (body and sleeves) for good measure.

As rewarding as it is to open packages and fill boxes and boxes of knitted items that are going to make a tangible difference in people's lives, it is always a disappointment to open the odd box full of garments that a4A simply won't be able to ship – because they won’t fit the 7-to-16-year-old age group that is the focus of this current campaign. I do not mean this to discourage anyone from contributing an item to this campaign or any future one. Just make sure that the lovely work you are lavishing time, talent and wool on will actually be of use for the group that has turned to a4A for help.

Off my soapbox now and back to my needles (yoke pullover, size 8-10, cherry-red, ready for some stripes!)


Kathy said...

Dear Laura, thanks to you and all the basement volunteers. I'd love to come and join you for an afternoon sometime, but I live too far away. Your description of the set-up is very informative, and a good reminder to save those odd-sized things for another drive, when the particular need comes along again.

Afghan Ann said...

I am prompted to pipe up because I don't want folks to think that there will always be a future campaign for whatever items and sizes on hand. Much too hard to arrange reliable shipping and distribution in Afghanistan and has been getting harder and harder as I mention from time to time on our email list. We knit "on order," depending on the needs of the particular NGO and shipping options.

I do want to encourage people to only knit and crochet for our current guidelines. We just have to take advantage of the current opportunity. I just don't want anyone to be disappointed, for example, if they are packing away baby blankets, but we never have another campaign calling for baby blankets.

I know we have managed to pull off these campaigns for 9-plus years now, but still ... the situation in Afghanistan has deteriorated this year. Harder than ever for the humanitarian relief agencies to do their jobs -- see today's related NYT headline story (we always partner with neutral NGOs, usually staffed by Afghans).

I know that I sound like a broken record (what's the contemporary equivalent expression?) on this, but feel compelled to send this reminder.

Wish you could join us in the Basement, Kathy. We're packing tomorrow with a small group. I don't expect a lot because it is the December holiday season, and I know people are busy, if past years are any indicator. Usually, the incoming packages pick up in Jan. and Feb. -- my guess is cause so much of the US in snowed in (San Francisco is year-round knitting weather, rarely burning up or freezing over, often gray.)

If any of you find yourself in SF for vacation or work, drop me an email. We'll do our best to arrange a packing session around your schedule and roll out the red carpet.

Thanks to all on this blog and the lurkers who are working on wool gifts for the students (ages 7-16) at the schools run by "Help the Afghan Children." I hope December is treating you well, not too stressful, and that you can avoid driving on those stormy roads!

Afghan Ann said...

I just got an error message that my comment was too large ... I should have written a new post perhaps, but the comment seems to have been published anyways. Blogger mystery.

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