10 DIYers Giving Back

 These crafty folks are making for a cause.

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Photo By: Courtesy of Ponyride

Photo By: Vitranc/iStock

Photo By: Deanne Revel

Photo By: Charles Eshelman

Photo By: Courtesy of Project Linus

Photo By: Courtesy of Unicef Market

Photo By: Dan Brandenburg

Photo By: Cause Box


When you hear the words thinktank or incubator it usually means investors backing programs in the tech world. But Detroit’s Ponyride is a space just for DIYers and artisans and offers the opportunity to fail, develop and grow ideas. The nonprofit’s 30,000 square-foot building supports 70 organizations and DIYers by offering space at a low cost. But Ponyride supports the greater community, too. Residents are required to provide 36 hours of community service or in-kind work for organizations that support Detroit over the course of a year. And Ponyride’s manufacturing space employs people transitioning out of homelessness by teaching workers sewing and packing skills and other critical business skills such as social media marketing, fundraising, and leadership.

Raising Men Lawn Care Service

Sometimes doing something as simple as moving a neighbor’s yard can make a big difference. Huntsville, Ala. man Rodney Smith Jr. saw overgrown lawns as an opportunity to help and created the group Raising Men Lawn Care Service. The organization moves lawns for the elderly, disabled, single parents and people who need help for free. Smith uses the service as a platform to get youth involved. Kids learn new skills like how to use a weed eater and build self esteem by giving back to the community.

Love for the Elderly

These days sitting down to handwrite a letter seems obsolete but Jacob Cramer knew a simple letter could make a difference. He founded Love for the Elderly in 2013 when he was still in high school. Today the organization has multiple programs including Letters of Love, a handwriting program to bring smiles to seniors, and Senior Buddies, a pen-pal relationship between youth and nursing home residents.


If you’ve visited Seattle or even the Seattle airport recently, you can’t miss signs for Glassybaby. The popular glass votives are hand blown with vibrant colors and patterns and have quite the fan following in the Pacific Northwest. More than 80 glassblowers in the company hot shops in Seattle and Berkeley handblow each votive in a 24-hour creation process. Each color and design means something as the design represents and benefits different charities or causes. To date, the company has donated more than six million dollars to animal, environment and health causes. Both Seattle and Berkeley locations host glassblowing experiences where you can make your own Glassybaby and learn about the glassblowing process.

Project Linus

With more than six million blankets delivered so far, this Peanuts-inspired non-profit has a mission to give every child in need the same comfort as Linus. Founded in 1995, today there are chapters in every state. Blankets are collected locally and distributed to children in hospitals, shelters, social service agencies or “anywhere that a child might be in need of a big hug.” The organization’s website also has a huge pattern library for crochet blankets, quilts and no-sew fleece options.

Unicef Market

Unicef's online market is a great place to shop for homewares, with more than 8,000 handmade items around the world. All items give back to global artisans and you can see which countries benefit from each item. They have a huge selection of traditional celadon jade pottery handmade by artisans in Thailand. “"I hope more people will understand and appreciate the art of Celadon ceramic.” said Unicef artist Duagkamoi Srisukri. “Each piece that I make has many stories to tell.”

The Snuggles Project

If you’ve ever been to a shelter, you know how sad it looks. Those cold, blank walls and metal bars are depressing to us but the environment can also be scary to shelter animals. The Snuggles Project was founded to give shelter animals extra love and make shelter cages look more homey by making animal blankets. These blanket snuggles help calm frightened dogs and cats and can help animals get adopted more quickly. The organization connects DIYers by encouraging Snuggler meetups and the website offers tons of blanket patterns with sew and no-sew options.

The Giving Keys

The Giving Keys is an incredible example of the impact upcycling can make. The company sells jewelry with vintage keys in all kinds of shapes and sizes. Each key has one word hand-engraved on it by a staffer transitioning out of homelessness. These men and women are taught engraving and other DIY skills that they can take with them. As for the word on the key, it could be anything from a reminder to be brave in a tough time to reminding someone how much you love them. You wear your key until you’ve embraced your word. Then you’re supposed to pass your key along to someone who needs the message more than you, recycling the old key once again.


Causebox, a subscription-based, quarterly gift box, features handmade, upcycled and socially-conscious products. The items inside each box inspire DIYs, crafts and cooking in your home while also empowering artisans around the world with meals, clean water and education. Subscriptions start at $50 per quarter.

Random Acts of Flowers

Random Acts of Flowers recycles unused flowers by creating new arrangements to give to people in health care facilities. These flowers bring smiles to people who may not have family or get visitors. Floral arrangers keep flowers in a freezer to extend the life and work their magic creating new arrangements with donated flowers and vases. Large donations come from grocery store floral departments or weddings but anyone is welcome to donate flowers and vases. If there’s not a Random Acts of Flowers near you, you can also donate to support the team who make and deliver these arrangements.

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