Made with love | meet our charity stitchers: Jonah larson

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Charity is a great way for quick-stitchers to find homes for their beautiful makes, but a crafty hobby can also be an intentional vehicle for positive change. Earlier this year, we asked our community to nominate a friend who knits or crochets for a cause, to be considered for our Charity Stitchers Award. We’ve been so inspired by the creative ways we see stitchers building a better world with their talents and wanted to sit down with one of our Stitch Ambassadors who’s used his platform for charity from the time he was old enough to pick up a hook.

Meet Jonah Larson, one of our Yarnspirations Stitch Ambassadors. Jonah is on a mission to bring the world closer together, one stitch at a time. The teenage crocheter has inspired the world with his passion for philanthropy since he was 11 years old, when he set out to build a school library in the Ethiopian village where he was born. Jonah continues to use his talents and platform to raise money for various causes, many in support of youth education in Ethiopia. Jonah’s efforts were recognized earlier this year when he received the 2023 William R. Simms Award for Outstanding Youth in Philanthropy.

Ready to spark your creativity? Read on to hear what Jonah had to say about stitching for charity.

To view the Charity Stitchers Lookbook pattern collection featuring the projects named after our charity stitchers, click here.

*Responses have been edited for brevity and clarity.

jonah larson

Jonah Larson
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“Giving back is the beating heart of Jonah’s work, it makes him happiest to be using his creativity and talents to help others.”

Jennifer Larson, Jonah’s mom

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1. Tell us how you got started crocheting. What made you interested in starting the craft?

It was a fluke that I started crocheting. When I was 5 years old, my aunt dropped off a bag of unwanted craft supplies for us kids to rummage through. At the bottom of the bag was a shiny, metal item.

It got my attention, so I asked my mom what it was. She informed me it was a crochet hook. Because she didn’t know how to crochet, she showed me a YouTube video on how to make a dishcloth. I wanted to try it, so she gave me some yarn and went about her morning tasks.

When she came back, she expected to find a tangled mess of yarn but instead, I had made a dishcloth that we still have today. Crocheting came easy to me, so I continued advancing my skills with more challenging video tutorials.

2. When did you start to become involved in philanthropy? What inspired you to use your love of crochet to make an impact?

I became involved in philanthropy when I was 11 years old. That’s when I started my own business (Jonah’s Hands, LLC), authored 2 books, and began traveling nationwide. I learned that the children in Ethiopia where I was born didn’t have access to books at their school. A school without books? I couldn’t believe it. I’m an avid reader and I can’t imagine not having books to read. I started to learn more about where I was born. I learned the children at that school would have been my friends had I lived in Ethiopia, and I wanted to help them. So many people have helped me - it was time for me to give back. I decided to crochet items and give a portion of my sales to build a library at the school. I also received help from celebrities and thousands of crochet friends from around the world. Together, we have changed the lives of thousands of schoolchildren. This partnered well with a promise my mother made to the orphanage nannies who asked her never to let me forget where I came from. We have kept that promise which was important to my family.

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3. What is your favorite charity or social cause that you support? What attracted you to their mission?

My favorite charity to partner with is the non-profit Roots Ethiopia. They have people working directly in Ethiopia in the area where I was born, and they can assess the needs of the school. I have raised well past $85,000 at this point (with the help of others). So far, we have built a school that serves over 2000 children and a library with cement floors (that’s rare in rural Ethiopia). It has thousands of books and a trained librarian, and they offer tutoring for kids who have to farm during the day and can’t always get to school. The kids knew I liked orange, so they painted the entire library orange - inside and out! We then moved on to building a fully equipped science lab. This caught the attention of the leaders in Ethiopia and the school was recognized as one of the top schools in rural Ethiopia. They even have an award-winning teacher. I learned that many girls don’t attend school because they didn’t have a safe and private bathroom. They had an old outhouse made of sticks with no privacy. We built them an 8-stall latrine complete with a private room to meet their personal needs. Lastly, I wanted the kids to enjoy some playtime. I know they like soccer, so I moved forward bringing them all they needed to have a soccer program - goals, soccer balls, uniforms, and shoes. My next project will be to focus on the high school. I’m in high school now so it seems appropriate. People can donate to my work in Ethiopia by going directly to

4. What advice do you have for stitchers who want to use their skills to give back? How can they get started?

My first donation was when I was very young. I made soap sacks (pouches that hold soap but double as a washcloth) and dropped them off at the Salvation Army. They are super easy to make, you can challenge yourself by using different stitches or simply using single crochet. Find some cotton yarn and start stitching - they work up quickly and are very useful.

5. What’s next for you? Where do you hope to take your philanthropy work in the future?

I continue to work with the schools in Ethiopia. Now that I have completed my work at the elementary school there, I am moving on to the high school. They also have many needs and I want to encourage them to continue their education

The work I’ve done with schools in Ethiopia can easily be replicated in many areas of the world. I can see myself building libraries for kids in need all over the globe.

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You can find more of Jonah’s work at or @jonahshandson Facebook and Instagram. You can also share your photos with our community using #YARNSPO and tag us @yarnspirations or @redheartyarns on Instagram or find us on Facebook. We love to see your charity makes!

Want to learn more about our 2023 Charity Stitchers? Kelly Martino tells us about stitching for Toronto shelters, Susan Moser shares tips on donation drives, and you'll hear all about how Jess Judkins’ story was inspired by her son’s desire to brighten the day of coffee shop customers. Looking for more charity patterns? Check out our 2020 Charity Stitchers lookbook here.