Latest update: August 21st, 2012
As any graduate student can attest, time is limited. In between writing papers, doing readings for classes, attending seminars, and spending time with family, it’s often difficult to have time for other activities. However, Gittela Welcher, a graduate student earning her MA in Childhood Education from Hunter College, proves otherwise. Gittela runs a charity she herself established within the past year, Crafters United For Charity. As the name of her charity indicates, her fundraising efforts differ from the norm. Gittela and a group of volunteer crafters create beautiful works of art, the proceeds from which are donated to a charity that is selected every two months. In a truly altruistic fashion, works of art, things of beauty, re-create beauty within the world by affecting those who need beauty most. The concept behind the charity—creating art which people buy and giving the proceeds to charity—is ingenious. The artists gain the satisfaction of creativity, the buyers gain beautiful crafts, and lesser-fortunate members of our society benefit. Recently, I spoke with Gittela about what inspired her to initiate this charity and how other young adults can become involved.
What inspired you to start Crafters United For Charity?
I’ve always enjoyed art as a hobby. Since I was eight-years-old, I’ve immersed myself in artwork, either on a personal level or for my classes. But more particularly, back in November 2010, a friend invited me to an iVolunteer event, which is a New York based organization aimed towards Holocaust survivors and preserving their memories. The purpose of this event was for the volunteers to showcase films they had created.
This event inspired me. Not only did I meet many artistic individuals, but after this event I felt like I could utilize my artistic abilities for good. At that point, I decided I want to sell my artwork and donate the money to charity.
How do you choose which charity to donate the money to?
We choose a new charity every two months. For the most part, we choose charities with Jewish interests. But all charities must be a certified non-profit, 501(c)3.
The proceeds from the first two months were donated to Hatzolah. The proceeds from the following three months were donated to Maspia. The proceeds for the next two months will be donated to Tomchei Shabbos of Queens.
Since I’ve only had to choose charities three times, it is still a new venture. However, I try to choose organizations that are community-based and pertinent. For instance, I chose Maspia, because I live near their headquarters in Queens. I pass by the organization each day and understand the difference they make. Organizations that hit home, that matter to people, appeal to me.
So far, the most difficult aspect has been getting out the world, pushing the limits, and getting things done. One interesting business fact I learned was not to burden the customer with too many options. Too many choices can overwhelm customers—if there is a clear choice, making a decision is less difficult. When we put crafts up on the site, we try to choose crafts that we know will be the most appealing to our customers. This is why although there might not be an endless amount of choices, everything we have up is beautiful and top-notch.
About how long does it take you to produce the crafts? Can you tell us a little bit about the creative process behind it?
A factor in the creative process is discerning what will sell. We also have to be careful about the copyright issues behind a product. For instance, one crafter wanted to use Mickey Mouse in her crafts. I spoke with someone well versed in legal issues and they recommended that we not put it up.
Beyond that, I see which crafts are the best quality. I try to choose crafts with a creative edge: the crafts possess uniqueness.
How can someone join your crafts team? Do they need to have a particular talent?
Anyone can join our team—all they need to do is provide one completed craft. Speaking to people, I have realized that most people have a talent that they are particularly good at, like painting or embroidery. I would recommend choosing a craft that you are comfortable with, and honing your niche.
Find out more about Crafters United For Charity by visiting their Web site, http://www.artsandcraftsforcharity.org. Or follow them on Twitter @GW_CraftersUFC.
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