After the materials arrived for our space, Michelle and I began brainstorming about a) how to get funds for consumables like fabric, yarn, and PLA for the 3-D printer, and b) what kinds of projects to do/organizations to partner with. A generous grant from a local church made sure we’d be able to purchase consumables for at least awhile, so we were able to turn our attention to organizations. As my inspiration Gina Seymour says, students should not make anything that you don’t already have a planned recipient for – it would be a pretty big bummer if all that effort had no place to go.
Another staff member, Karin, had recently been to a presentation by one of the volunteers for Restore Innocence, which is an organization based in Colorado Springs that works to provide support and services for rescued victims of human trafficking. As she recounted the presentation to me, we both had to take a deep breath imagining the horrific trauma these victims had experienced, victims the same age (or younger) than our students. Karin had the idea that perhaps students could make the blankets and stuffed animals that are placed in the organization’s Restoration Bags, rather than those items being store-bought. After contacting the Executive Director and getting the go-ahead, we set out to find a suitable stuffed animal and blanket to include, and then we officially opened our compassionate makerspace for business. I presented to students in classes (thanks, teachers) about both the projects and the issue of human trafficking. Students began showing up the very next day. The elephant pattern was enlarged slightly, and students made one side out of ultra-soft “minky” and the other from cotton. We used 1 1/2 yards of fleece for each blanket. In total we donated 15 blankets and 15 stuffed elephants, and involved 22 students.