THE WAY OF THE MESSENGER OF GOOD
Olena Khasheva
I always loved knitting, especially things for children. So, I started thinking about helping children in need. The idea came: to organize something related to knitting. I started by looking for similar initiatives, but did not find anything in Ukraine, and step by step I launched "40 loops of goodness".
Goodacity Добразность Шаг 1

How it all began

"I could easily transfer some money for a good cause. I thought that it would be better to help someone than to go and buy sweets for myself."
Olena, I was looking at the photos of the things you knit, and I was amazed at how professional your work was! Have you been knitting for a long time?

I started when I was probably eight or nine years old. We had crafts lessons at school, they started after the fourth grade, so it was nine or ten years old…

Pretty early! My daughter is eight, but I can't imagine her doing something like that!

Well, it was just the beginning at this age. Of course, I had no custom orders then. Orders came when I became an adult... You see, I am a very experienced knitter. As a child, for example, I got some money from this. It was an additional income for me and my sister, so that we would not be idle. I used to live in the Caucasian region, and all the women there were knitting constantly. And so, our mother has been teaching us since we were little. I was always a creative child: I drew, sewed constantly. My mother bought me a sewing machine, the one that you had to work with your feet, back and forth. Legs were tired, of course! [she laughs] My mother did everything so that I could develop in this direction: if I wanted to knit, I got knitting needles, if I wanted to sew, I got magazines and fabrics. As a child, I even dreamt of becoming a fashion designer…

Did you have a desire to help someone as a child? Perhaps the urge to do good comes from childhood?

It is possible. As I already said, we sewed and knit a lot. We were mostly knitting for sale. But I sewed, so to speak, for close people for free. For example, my sister would always bring a dog or a cat home and hide them. And I did not have such a strong love for animals. But I had it for people, for children. I even wanted to be a psychologist for some period of time, I was often reading books on psychology. When my child was growing up, I wanted to understand children more and study them. Apparently, it all is intertwined: kindness and psychology, communication with children. And it makes you want to help someone.

That is, you wanted to take care of someone all your life?

I always helped if I had such an opportunity. Probably, like everyone else — I saw a charity stand and put 10 hryvnias there. Or I saw information about gathering money on TV and donated a hundred hryvnias there. There were situations when my acquaintances needed help, for example, due to sickness. I could easily transfer some money for a good cause. I thought that it would be better to help someone than to go and buy sweets for myself. And maybe everything would turn out well for this person.

And how did the idea of knitting for charity come about?

I always loved knitting! I had a stall before where my mother and I sold my knitted items, took orders. Knitting had been in my heart since childhood, and I could not let it go! [she laughs] When my son grew up and I had more free time, I didn't stop knitting. It was not for him anymore, because he was an adult. But I continued to knit things for children even then, I tried something new, added some schticks of my own.

Those things accumulated even though I gave some to close people. So, I started thinking about helping children in need, and gave some of my things to them. And then the time came to go to an orphan boarding school to see how it all works. I met volunteers who offered to go with them. I got into an orphan boarding school for the first time, and afterwards the idea came: to organize something related to knitting. I started by looking for similar initiatives, but did not find anything in Ukraine, and step by step I launched "40 loops of goodness".
Я почала думати, щоби організувати клуб. Знайомилася з волонтерами, які їздять до інтернатів, і пропонувала: «Вам не потрібні такі, як я? Можу поїхати допомогти, можу зв'язати…»
How did you become an organizer of "40 loops of goodness" in Ukraine?

I started alone, and at that time I was just handing some things over to orphan boarding schools. Then I began going there. Of course, one or two knit items wouldn't save 150 people who needed warm socks in winter. So, I got thinking about making some kind of a club. At that time, I didn't know exactly how to do it. I simply made the acquaintances of the volunteers working with orphan boarding schools and suggested: "Do you need people like me? I can go and help, I can knit..." Something like that. Later, I started searching the Internet: knitting, charity. I was thinking of finding people who did something similar. And so, I found the club of knitters in Russia. Initially a Russian woman organized this particular movement.
Later I found "40 loops of goodness". But of course, it did not suit me very well since the club was located in Russia. And everything came to the point that I needed to organize the "40 loops of goodness" in Ukraine. We still communicate with girls from Russia, formally we are together. But we have, for example, different sponsors. So, this charitable movement exists in Russia, Kazakhstan, and Belarus. And now I have already opened it in 13 cities in Ukraine!

40 loops of goodness

"We help people who need care and attention: children from orphan boarding schools, elderly people from boarding houses. We help mother-and-child homes."
Now the question about your activity. How are you currently helping and whom?

We help people who need care and attention: children from orphan boarding schools, elderly people from boarding houses. We help mother-and-child homes. And if we have enough things, we give them to low-income families or even to the homeless. We have volunteers who work directly with this group of people, and donate some hats, gloves, and warm clothes through them.

So, you knit, right?

Yes, we knit. But what is the most important, those items are not second-hand, as it often happens with the things for orphan boarding schools. We knit new things, both warm and summer ones. And also, toys.

Do you even have things for summer?

Off-season and summer ones as well. For example, sundresses, shawls, or shorts. That is, we have quite a lot of summer clothes knitted from cotton yarn, viscose and other materials.

It is very interesting! Do you take photos of your items for reports?

Of course! Our craftswomen live all over Ukraine. The main photo reports appear on the pages on Facebook and Instagram. We receive yarn from sponsors and show it there. We also take photos of all ready products and show where exactly they are sent. When people take the yarn, they also knit things and make photo reports. The main activity takes place on Instagram.
Knitters are like shopaholics, but more like "knitting addicts." Sometimes we even joke that we are on the needle because of our knitting needles!
I see. And how can people help your charity project?

Anyone can be a sponsor! For example, professional knitters who have some spare yarn. Or people who do not knit, but can help by buying various trivia, yarn or knitting needles. For example, I needed notebooks to encourage knitting girls. The printing house printed them at cost price.

Perfectly!

Yes! One more good thing about the yarn from the sponsors is that, for example, girls want to knit something, but they don't have this material. Or they want to learn to knit, but they don't know if they will succeed. They can take some yarn from me and knit something for the club. They study and fulfill their dreams. And sometime later they can buy yarn themselves because they already know what kind of thread it is, what composition of material they need, and they knit a complete thing. Or knitters may need some yarn to learn. Here the yarn from the sponsors helps a lot! Knitters are like shopaholics, but more like "knitting addicts." Sometimes we even joke that we are on the needle because of our knitting needles! (she laughs)

Do you have a more or less permanent circle of craftswomen? Or do some people come and some people go?

Everyone helps in a different way. There are people who hear about us for the first time and want to help. For example, to knit a cap once. And there are those who knit constantly, 10-20 items per month. Permanent knitters in one city often gather together. For example, we have many girls from Chernihiv. Those who have their own small club of knitters and want to do charity work, can be called permanent members. Hand knitting is a very painstaking and time-consuming business. Not everyone is ready to give away a handmade item.
Now I have my channel on YouTube and I teach knitting. And I get sure again that I like doing it for free as the urge to be useful means more to me than earning money.
Olena, I wonder who you are by education?

I studied banking and finance, so I am an economist.

And you worked in accounting?

Yes, I have been working as an accountant all my life.

So, you have a main job in accounting, and you knit for the soul?

Oh, I can't do without knitting! Now I have my channel on YouTube and I teach knitting. And I get sure again that I like doing it for free as the urge to be useful means more to me than earning money. Even on YouTube, my main goal is not to make money, but to share my knowledge. I run marathons on the Instagram page, I encourage people to join our club. One might say, I unite lovers of knitting. And the main rule is that we give free workshops. I find craftswomen who can show how to knit this or that thing. Instead, we ask people to donate knitted items to the club. This is a mutual service: we give a free workshop and tell you how to knit this blouse, and you give us one of the things you made.

Do you create your own models, not seen in the magazines?

Yes, sometimes, but it takes lots of time. Of course, it is easier to knit by magazines' schemes. Therefore, if I need to knit, for example, two or three children's sweaters or hats for an orphan boarding school, it will be easier to do it by the schemes. I can come up with something for myself and knit it. I had plans to invent some unique items, to model them and sell my own workshops. But this idea dropped: it is still easier for me to knit a thing and give it to someone as a present. I like to give presents.

Giving is sometimes more pleasant than receiving. That is true.

Exactly! In addition, knitted things are handmade. All the people who got such presents from me, were very glad. I knit for children mostly, because of the amount of yarn needed. Now the yarn is expensive, there are many a lot of different kinds. Knitting became fashionable! Therefore, I have no possibility to knit things and give them around all the time. But sometimes I do.

What stays in the memory

"When we communicate, positive emotions between us are better than any gratitude!"
Another question: can you remember the most vivid event from your activity? Perhaps you have special memories of giving some of your things?

You see, they are so different that I cannot single out just one. When you visit children at an orphan boarding school, you get a lot of emotions when they hug you! But every time it happens somehow differently/ For example, you come to a psychoneurological boarding school, there are both children and adults, different age groups. When I got into such a boarding school for the first time, it was hard for me. It is so difficult when you do not know how to communicate with this child. It leaves very vivid memories. But it turns out that some girls in boarding schools can embroider or knit very well! I bring them some yarn or beads for embroidery.

I used to go to Kyiv often, to visit children from the cancer treatment center. We arranged charity concerts and exhibitions, sold their works – сhildren drew pictures, which we then sold at exhibitions. The money from this went to the treatment of these children. Honestly, such things impress me more than anything else! After all, those kids are really involved, they are glad, despite the illness!

Thanks for sharing! And how often do people do something nice for you?

Of course, they do something nice. Good people surround me. When we communicate, positive emotions between us are better than any gratitude! Smiles and a good mood are just enough for me. If a person is good, then they emit positive, pleasant energy. I don't think I'm doing anything extraordinary. I just help if I can and don't help if I cannot.
Goodacity Добразность Шаг 1

The power of thought

"I wish goodness prevailed; I wish all people were kind!"
Let's give rein to imagination, Olena! If you had three wishes, what would you wish for?

Oh, I don't even know! [pause] Speaking about me personally, I would like to have the usual things: to have money, a car, an apartment. As for society, I wish there were no boarding schools, and all the children were with their families. And for this we must have a healthy society, first of all.

The second wish is to invent a cure for cancer so that children do not get sick. It is just not fair! A person can live their whole life and get some disease over time. And here we have children who have just been born and already have cancer — I just can't get it in my head!

The third wish is that there was no war. It still happens in many countries, and I don't understand why. I really want all people to be kind.

Three wishes flow into one: I wish goodness prevailed; I wish all people were kind; I wish heaven was on earth!
Goodacity Добразность Шаг 1

Helping helpers

"The more of us knitters, the better!"
And finally: could you share your pressing problems? Maybe some help would be useful to you?

I would like to have some place for my knitting fairies! I am unable to pay rent for the premises. I started everything related to this club myself. Later, I wrote about the meetings of the club on Instagram and thus, I had my team. But we mostly meet in cafes because there is no other place for us.

If only we had a room, even a small one, five or ten square meters! It would be easier for me to store things that pass through my hands — sometimes there are several bags of them. I was gradually offloaded by coordinators in other cities, such as Kyiv, Dnipro, Odesa, Zaporizhzhia. But if the yarn is sent to me, then I need to store it somewhere. Space permitting, we would consider offering free workshops for those willing to come and learn. And we would use the funds collected for trips. After all, now it all happens at my expense, at the expense of coordinators in other cities.

Maybe there are such coworking premises in Chernihiv?

(she sighs) There are some premises in Chernihiv, I know, but to be honest, I cannot afford it. My goal is not so much on the financial side, I want to attract those people who want to knit for charity in our club. The more knitters there are, the less parcels I will receive from other cities. I will have my own little nest in Chernihiv, and that will be enough for me! The more of us knitters, the better!
May all this will come true and may your place appear! May the club flourish, with new cities and new knitters! Olena, thank you once again for your time, for the conversation. It was nice to chat!

It is mutual! I can say that it is necessary to make such charity projects as Goodacity. Good people can be seen and heard immediately. So. It was a pleasure to meet you!

Goodacity Добразность Шаг 1
Love for people makes those wings on which a person rises above everything.
Maxim Gorky
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