Kogo (Knit One Give One) consists of more than 5000 knitters creating a variety of hand-made garments for people in need, including for Salvation Army Frontline services, such as Project 614, Flagstaff Crisis Accommodation and Refugee Asylum Seeker service, to name just a few. The brains behind this unique organisation is Ros Rogers, who saw a need and found a way to help.
How did KOGO start?
The seeds of KOGO were planted in July 2004. It was a particularly cold winter in Melbourne and there was a sudden resurgence in the popularity of knitting scarves. These two factors combined to motivate me to get friends and family to direct their knitting energy towards knitting for charity (after all, how many scarves can one person wear!). This resulted in 180 scarves being knitted and these were distributed by the Emerald Hill Mission to people in need.
How do you get the knitted garments to the homeless people who need them?
As the number of garments we received began to increase, we started calling various agencies that support people in need to see whether their clients could benefit from our winter woollies. The agencies would then tell us their requirements and we would do our best to fulfil them. We have volunteer drivers who deliver the bags of goodies to these agencies.
How did you recruit knitters and what was the reaction?
We initially recruited by word of mouth and then we some had publicity in local papers as well as magazines. Once we had set up a website, lots of our knitters found us on the internet. Our knitters vary in age from an 11-year-old girl to our oldest knitter who is 100. They come from all walks of life. Some of them are part of a group, while others knit at home by themselves. Many are socially isolated and kogo gives them the opportunity to make contact with others and to contribute to society.
One of the many things that I love about kogo is that the knitters get as much out of it as the recipients! It gives them a very tangible way to help those who are less fortunate without necessarily having to spend large amounts of money.
How much has KOGO grown since you started it?
To start with, I was basically doing everything except for knitting all the items. We now have at least 20 people who come to the KOGO office every Tuesday to sort, label and pack the items that have come in, plus more than 5,000 knitters across Australia and three drivers. I am very proud to say that we are all volunteers—there are no paid staff.
In our first year of operation we distributed 180 scarves. In 2015, we distributed a total of 62,500 hand-knitted/crocheted items to more than 250 community partner organisations. It looks as though we will distribute even more this year!
What kind of feedback do you get from recipients?
We generally get feedback from our Community Partner organisations rather than the individual recipients. They relay to us the joy and appreciation of their clients. Occasionally we do get letters from individuals and their expression of gratitude is very special and heart-warming to all the KOGO team.
What do you get out of it on a personal basis?
I feel very fortunate to be able to combine two of my passions—knitting and helping those in need. I am constantly overwhelmed and humbled by the beautiful items that are made by our volunteers—just for the purpose of giving away to those who are doing it tough.
As Jesus told the disciples, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me’ (Matthew chapter 2, verse 40).
Garments for KOGO can be left at any Lincraft store—for full details on KOGO visit www.kogo.org.au.