kindness activist

kindness activist

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Auction Kindness

I am embarrassed to admit that the Kindness Activist I am going to tell you about now was nominated by her cousin Beth around 4 months ago…  And she is soooo deserving to be named a Kindness Activist, I cannot believe it has taken me this long to tell you about her!  It is just, well, I have not felt all that creative in the last few months, and to be blunt, maybe I haven’t felt all that kind either…   So, I have been neglecting this project, and for that I am sorry.  Not working on Kindness Activist is really wrong of me.  For one thing, it is wrong because by not writing about kindness, I am not reminding YOU about it, and not helping to spread it around the world at a time when we especially need more of it!  But it is also wrong because by not thinking about kindness, not looking for kindness, and not writing about it, I am only perpetuating my “unkind” mentality.  Sigh.  Today I choose to be kind.  I choose to open my eyes, my mind, and my heart, and be alert.  I will notice when kindness crosses my path.  And I will tell you about KATHE Hannauer, our newest Kindness Activist. 

If you read the story here about Kindness Activist Karen Hoyer ( Knit Hat Kindness ), you know I am not a knitter.  I couldn’t knit a sock if my life depended on it.  So, today’s Kindness Activist impresses me from the get go just by being able to create this like these, with her own 2 hands!!

Isn't this a BEAUTIFUL piece?

And check out how cute and COZY this set looks!!
But the KIND part, see, the really KIND part, is that Kathe is not knitting these beautiful pieces for herself.  And she is not even knitting them to sell at a craft show or on Etsy…  No, she is knitting them to auction off, to give the proceeds to CHARITIES.  100% of the proceeds!!  So, her time, her supplies, her talent – all poured into beautiful pieces which end up benefit very deserving organizations!!!  Isn’t that amazing? 

Here she is - the newest Kindness Activist Kathe!
Kathe told me it all started after Hurricane Sandy in 2012.  She lives in New York City, and she wanted to help out after the storm.  The Knights of Columbus in her Northern Manhattan neighborhood was looking on Facebook for volunteers to help affected people – they would rent vans and load them with food, cleaning supplies, and other necessities then deliver them to Staten Island.  Kathe said, “I knew that all money donated was going directly to help people (not disparaging the Red Cross or other large organizations, but nobody in this case was getting a salary, and the labor was 100% volunteer).  I spent a morning assisting them with logistics, and started to wonder how else I could help.  I looked at my embarrassingly large yarn stash, and figured I could probably turn ten bucks’ worth of yarn into something that someone would be willing to pay $40 or $50 for, especially if they knew the money was going to a good cause. I pitched the idea to the head of the chapter and he was more than willing to put a dedicated page on their website with a PayPal button to make donating easy, and we were off.  We raised aver $1500 that first year.”

See, it is actions like THAT that set Kindness Activists apart!!   They go above and beyond!  It is more than donating money, more than volunteering time.  Kathe developed a plan that is ongoing and sustainable to use her talents to make the world a better place!!  I love it. 

More of her amazing work
Katherine has a Facebook group called Small Things and that is where the KINDNESS happens!  She told me how it all works: “I knit something, post a photo of it in the group with an opening bid, and then people bid in the comments. I (more or less arbitrarily) decide when to end the auction.  There can be anywhere from 2 bidders to protracted bidding wars involving a half dozen people!  Once I get confirmation of their donation, I put the item in the mail to them. Sometimes, an auction is won by a local friend or colleague, which means I can avoid the post office-that’s the only part I don’t enjoy!”

And, like I mentioned earlier, 100% of the donation goes directly to the charity!  Kathe doesn’t take any of the money to buy supplies or pay herself for her time and work – it all goes to support the causes!  “I have a pinned post at the top of the page giving auction winners links to a few choices, and they make the donation directly so I don’t have to deal with handling funds at all,” she explained.

I asked her why she doesn’t SELL the beautiful items she creates instead of using them to get donations as she does.  I think her answer really shows how KIND her heart is, “I think that generally crafting is a pretty tough way to try to make money. I suspect people wouldn’t be willing to pay what I would have to charge to make it worth my time, and the idea of maintaining and promoting an online shop doesn’t appeal to me. It’s different if it’s going to a good cause-and the charities make it easy for me.”  So, think about that a second:  she doesn’t think people would be willing to pay what she would have to charge for the pieces to make it worth her time, yet essentially, she MAKES THEM NOW FOR ABSOLUTELY NO MONEY!  A heart of gold, I tell you!!! 

And look how pretty this one is!!!
Kathe, like me, roots for the “little guy” and says when choosing charities to donate to, “I prioritize groups where I have personal contacts:  it makes confirming donations easy, and I like supporting local efforts and smaller charities that don’t have the fundraising clout of the big guys. We’ve raised money for literacy and after-school programs in my neighborhood, as well as a local dog rescue and more recently, the Lelt Foundation, which was founded by a friend and colleague of mine.”

Lest you think that her life is all knitting, no work, let me explain something:  Kathe is a FREELANCE VIOLINIST.  I have not gotten to hear her play, but I am hoping that happens at some point!!  Because of her work, she says she, has, “…knitted in lots of venues, from Broadway pits to backstage at Carnegie Hall, and on the subway (small projects like hats and socks are the most portable) It also means I often take finished objects along to gigs and browbeat my colleagues into modeling them for me so I can grab photos!  Recently I started taking some classes at a local community college, and have been known to work on my sock-in-progress during a lecture.”  There you have it – if you win an auction at Small Things not only are you helping out a charity, but your gorgeous new scarf just might have seen the inside of a Broadway music pit!!

Kathe in action
Kathe estimates that this project brings in around $1000-$1500 per season (usually September through March).  And she has been doing this since 2012, so, whew, you do the math!  It is amazing!!  I asked about the YARN, where does she get it, because from what I have seen, that stuff isn’t cheap.  “The stash yarn I've been using is mostly stuff for which I didn't really have another use-stuff I picked up inexpensively at sales and on the internet with no projects in mind (any knitter will confess to having done this from time to time, and can attest to the fact that one's stash can grow rapidly out of control when one succumbs to Yarn Lust). That said, I haven’t really made much of a dent in the stash, because people keep donating yarn. I’m really trying to work my way through the stash, though, honest.”

I know from following her on Facebook that Kathe’s recent knitting has been focused on the infamous pink pussy hats made popular by the Women’s March.  Only, because of her musical talents, she not only makes human sized hats, she also knits INSTRUMENT SIZED HATS!!!  Isn’t this the most adorable activist violin you have ever seen???

Too sweet (and too nasty!  Go little violin go!)
To sum things up, Kathe told me a quote from Pema Chodron that inspires her, “We don't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts.” 

Well maam, YOUR ACTIONS definitely inspire my heart.  Thank you for putting your kindness out into the world – you make this a better place. 

You can join Kathe’s Small Things Facebook group and get in on the bidding action at: (or search Small Things in FB) – send a join group request
You can check out the organizations currently featured in Small Things here:                
- The Bully Project, which rescues and finds homes for Pitbulls and Pitbull mixes -
 - The Lelt Foundation, which provides nutrition, education, and jobs to severely malnourished and        impoverished families in Ethiopia -

And if you want to see Kathe’s other passion, yoga, check out her website here:

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