In 2008, Leslye Borden made a decision that would give hundreds of abused women something to hold on to. Having sold her stock photo business the year before, without any idea of what life was going to hold for her next, she decided to combine her love of knitting with her desire to give back to the community and launched Handmade Especially for You, an organization that provides handmade "comfort" scarves as gifts to women who have suffered abuse.
The scarves, created by Ms. Borden and volunteers, go to shelters for abused women and their children. Each scarf is different, signed with a gift tag by its maker and wrapped with a bright ribbon to emphasize the personal nature of the gift. One shelter organization calls the scarves "hugs around the neck" for its residents, many of whom who arrive there with nothing but their children and the clothes on their backs.
What started as a one-person grassroots organization has grown to more than 600 people donating their time and skill, with 20 affiliates throughout the country. Ms. Borden runs an expansive volunteer network for the production, collection and distribution of the comfort scarves. Volunteers are now based all over the United States, as well as Canada, England, Germany, and even South Africa. One group meets weekly at her house in the South Bay area of Los Angeles to put together "magic ball" yarn kits, which they deliver to others who wish to participate in the cause. Twice a month another group of volunteers comes to inspect and wrap the dozens of handmade scarves that the organization receives from other knitters. Ms. Borden also visits churches, retirement homes, senior centers, and other organizations to share her yarn kits and enlist additional volunteers.
In addition, on her Handmade Especially for You website, Ms. Borden provides scarf patterns for those who wish to work on their own.
Thanks to Ms. Borden and her vision, 57,000 comfort scarves have been delivered to shelters and centers throughout Los Angeles County.