Knitting to help the homeless

Marie and Lotte from Norway

EF Academy Oxford

During their second year of studying the IB program at EF Academy Oxford, students Marie and Lotte from Norway decided to dedicate their CAS project to helping the homeless in Oxford. Using their creative skills, they came up with the plan to knit hats and scarves for the people who need them the most.

Where did the idea to knit for the homeless come from?

There is a lot of homelessness in England, with Oxford being no exception. We are so lucky to be able to study here, so we thought it would be a great idea to help out. As we were starting our CAS project last winter, we agreed on this being the issue that we wanted to engage with. We discussed several different ways to help the homeless, for example we thought of selling bracelets and giving the funds earned to a homeless shelter. Eventually we decided that knitting hats and scarves would be the most helpful, as that is something they really need.

Did you have any challenges along the way?

我们的主要挑战是大流行. Right after we had started our project, a lockdown was introduced in the UK and the school closed. This meant that we had to push the timeline to November 2021 instead.

"Even a small act of kindness can impact someone else's life more than we can ever imagine."

What was the process of designing your project like?

We started with making a proposal form to plan the project. We made a timeline and tried to calculate how much time we would need, and how many hats and scarves we would be able to knit. After that, we made a budget and started a fundraiser to collect money for yarn.

We shared the fundraiser with friends and family, and the support was much greater than we had anticipated. We managed to raise 450 pounds in total, which was way more than we were going to spend on knitting equipment. Therefore, we decided that the money not spent on knitting equipment would instead be spent on buying gift cards at the local grocery store that we would then be handing out alongside the knitted sets.

Is there anything else you'd like to share about your story?

As word of our CAS project spread around school, our English teacher also wanted to engage with the project. Together with our activity coordinator, they donated food to the project, and also engaged other teachers to donate clothing, socks and so on. This led to our project becoming much more successful. Also, a group of students came with us to hand out the food, gift cards and the hats and scarves. We really had great support from our school during the whole project.

In what ways are you making a difference, either in school or outside of school, to get more people engaged in helping their community?

Lotte: In my home country I take part in a youth political party, and I have also worked at an elderly home in my community. I have also been part of a couple assemblies at school, where I have spoken about our project to try to inspire others. I am also taking part in a sustainability club where we try to inform others about the world. Lastly, my previous school has a fundraiser every where that collects money for three sister schools in Ethiopia. I collected over 1000 pounds to the cause, and my school collectively raised 200 000 pounds every year.

Marie: Before coming to EF Academy Oxford, I was volunteering for the Red Cross at a program focused on helping teenagers from different backgrounds. I have also been active in a political youth party for several years back in Norway. Lotte and I have also been talking about our CAS project at school assembly, hoping that other students would be more engaged with CAS. I am also part of the school's sustainability club, called "Green Team", where we seek to inform members of our school about the different measures we as individuals can take to reduce our carbon footprint.

What advice do you have for students who want to make a difference in the world?

Just start! Everything counts, even a small act of kindness can impact someone else's life more than we can ever imagine. We definitely experienced that when we were handing out the hats and scarves, the gratitude they showed was greater than we could have ever imagined. You can start small by helping your neighbors, starting or joining a club, or finding a volunteer center close to you and helping out together with your friends.

After we finished our project in November, we formed a club at school called "Helping the homeless." In this club, we will be going around the city center once a month to hand out food and other goods to the homeless.

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