Profile photo of Aspen
Community story, The Crafty Giver

The Crafty Giver

Aspen, Vestal, NY, USA., blind

Aspen has been completely hooked on crafting, ever since she was introduced to it as a child. Born completely blind, Aspen’s approach to crafting has always been focused on the process of creating rather than enjoying the finished product. “My goal is to just make as many of whatever as possible and find as many people to give it to as possible. That's my destiny”, Aspen says.

Aspen explains that she has always been a ‘bulk person’ - not only when it comes to crafting but also for her other hobby, cooking and baking. “I do everything I do in bulk. That's just how I do. Because I figure if I'm going to dirty a bowl or a pot, I might as well feed somebody who needs it. That's my philosophy”, Aspen explains. Being a mathematical person, Aspen also enjoys the math behind buying and making in bulk and figuring out how many items she can create from a certain bag of supplies, or how to get the best unit price.

Her list of projects is truly impressive. During the times of lockdown due to COVID-19, Aspen has done her best to make a difference and spread a little joy. She has provided staff in local stores with meals during their shifts and given out homemade bracelets to everyone she meets. For the 2020 holiday season, Aspen is handing out homemade beaded ornaments. She is visiting local malls with bags of hundreds of ornaments, gifting one to every single employee working at the shops and restaurants during this challenging holiday season.

As if all of that wasn’t enough, Aspen also used to knit little hats for the babies at the American Heart Association. When she found out that they needed red hats for the babies, she went from store to store to buy all the red yarn she could get her hands on. She had made a motorized knitting machine that she could control with a foot pedal that would knit a little hat in three minutes. Aspen had set up her own little automated production of red baby hats that allowed her to produce up to a hundred a day. When she finally delivered the hundreds of hats to the American Heart Association, they were floored by her contribution. “They said that I had beaten a company, because they had hired a company to make red hats a couple of years ago. The company didn't even make as many as I did”, Aspen explains. Her newest project is scrapbook style refrigerator magnets that she’s planning to hand out to hospital patients after the holidays.

But why doesn’t she sell her products? While she used to sell her handicrafts, she found that it just wasn’t satisfying.. On top of that, as productive as she is, she simply couldn’t manage to sell all the products that she would make. So she decided to give them away instead - and that’s something that brings her an immense amount of joy. Finding people to give her crafts to has now become one of the most satisfying parts of the process for her. “I want to stand in the line of a thousand people and just go down the line and give away. That's my dream”, Aspen says.

The volunteers are the enablers. I love it. I love hearing random people's voices, and I wish that I could give them a gift over the phone.

The crafting process is usually very tactile, and Aspen always goes for projects that she can do independently. However, there are some visual aspects that are challenging for her, such as reading product labels, distributing and measuring ingredients, and distinguishing different beads or other materials. And that’s where Be My Eyes comes in. As you might have figured, Aspen enjoys talking and interacting with strangers. She’s always happy with the fact that she can connect with a volunteer at any time of the day and without having to justify why she does what she does. By giving their sight, the volunteers help Aspen give to others, creating a chain of giving. Let’s all give a little more in 2021!