Hello makers, my name is Amanda and I am the designer, creator and freedom fighter behind Mandi’s Makings, a company birthed from the idea that we can all do something about the issue of human trafficking. It’s my passion to inspire makers to embrace their calling and use it to impact the world around them, and I'm excited to share my story today on the Our Maker Life blog!
Creating a movement of makers who would decide not to sit on the sidelines anymore but speak up for those who can’t speak for themselves was my ultimate goal. The best way I knew how to do that was to start. In June 2012, I sent my first box of handmade gifts (woven belts) to survivors of human trafficking at an A21 shelter in Thessaloniki, Greece. Since then, other makers have come alongside to send 2500+ gifts (including hats, scarves, bags, blankets and jewelry) to those affected all over the world.
As I traveled more for speaking and events, I met people who didn’t realize the impact trafficking has on kids and families right in their own backyard. And, since it was such a large issue, they didn’t believe they could do anything about it. That was how I felt in 2008 when I first learned about trafficking, and I knew I had to stop the lie once and for all. We had to find a way for people to get more involved. As we planned for 2018 and a more streamlined approach to those affected, we realized we needed to focus on two things:
1 – A way to create TOGETHER. Things were getting out of control with those who wanted to give. Items were being donated that the shelters didn’t NEED. We wanted to offer something that made sense and left an impact on the kids and families they are able to reach.
2 – A place for those who wanted to learn, and a space to offer encouragement from others along the way.
Enter: Legacy Blankets.
The idea behind the Legacy Blanket is to create a blanket made with multiple granny squares constructed by multiple people. The squares are 6x6 inches, and the blankets can be made in a multitude of sizes. We also started a Facebook group where we could share videos for those wanting to learn how to crochet, and an environment for “seasoned” makers to encourage those who are just getting started.
The response has been incredible! New makers are emerging and the community being built is amazing. We are receiving squares from all over the United States and Canada.
We have partnered with shelters not only helping survivors, but also those working to prevent trafficking from becoming an issue in a child’s life. Some of those places include: pregnancy centers, foster care/ adoption organizations, trafficking organizations/ shelters and hospitals who are seeing more and more poverty-stricken families.
And the best part...seeing more people get involved and want to do something about the issue to trafficking.
We have been making items for survivors for six years, and Legacy Blankets have brought this idea of raising awareness and giving back to a whole new level.
I learned how to crochet when I was 15 years old. Right after I graduated high school my aunt (Nana) was diagnosed with cancer. We lived 12 hours apart, so I began crocheting a blanket I would surprise her with that could provide comfort and remind her she wasn’t alone. Unfortunately, she passed away before I was able to give her the blanket and she never knew about it. Overwhelmed with grief, I put my yarn and hooks away for 7 years.
Seeing these Legacy Blankets now being created to provide comfort and remind these families they are not alone brings it all around full circle. We can’t do everything. But, we can do something.
Start where you are.
You can learn more about Legacy Blankets and the full story of Nana’s (my aunt) blanket here. If you want to be part of creating Legacy Blankets, email firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know how you may want to help!
Amanda was born and raised in the birthplace of Jazz. Even though her roots are in New Orleans, she and her husband, Richard, currently live in Jacksonville, FL with their dog, Louie. She is a fiber lover, writer, speaker and fighter for social justice. When she is not doing these things, she enjoys spending time browsing farmer’s markets, antique stores and listening to live music. You can typically find her contemplating yarn vs. yoga and most of the time, yarn wins! Take a moment and say hello to her on Facebook or Instagram @mandismakings.