Special Olympics Stops Scarf Project

2012 special olympicsMany knitters for the past couple of years have contributed knit scarves to the Scarves for Special Olympics project, which had knitters and crocheters making scarves for participants in the state-level winter games. But the program has been discontinued, with the stated reason being it’s become too popular.

A statement posted on the Red Heart website (the company sponsored the project and produced the yarns that were supposed to be used for the scarves) said in part:

The program became so popular that donations outpaced the number of Special Olympics winter athletes and supporters. It was as important to us, as we know it was to you, that each and every scarf made it into the hands of the intended recipient – an athlete or supporter – something we cannot ensure going forward, due to the high volume of excess scarves. Special Olympics will distribute the extra scarves received in 2012 during the 2013 winter games season.

I’m sure this is a disappointment both to the knitters and to the athletes, who I’m sure loved to receive the scarves. Of course it doesn’t mean that individuals, or even the individual states, couldn’t decide to continue the tradition without the backing of Red Heart. In fact, that’s how the whole thing started. It was one state, Idaho, back in 2009 that decided it wanted to honor Special Olympians with scarves, and the project snowballed from there.

I don’t think knitters would have protested if the excess scarves had been, say, given to homeless people in the various states, or auctioned or sold to benefit Special Olympics. It’s a shame to see such a fun project halted because of its success.

Did you ever knit for this project? I’d love it if you’d spill your thoughts on its end.


  1. Ruth D says

    I wondered about the US Olympic committee thing too. The timing was a little too coincidental. I’ve been knitting and crocheting scarves for them for many states since the beginning and am sorely disappointed. It was a nice community and it was nice to see pictures of the athletes wearing the scarves and reading about their special olympic experience. I will really miss doing this. Don’t get me started on the US Olympic Committee’s kerfluffle with Ravelry.

  2. Terase says

    I knit one for my Niece for the past couple years. It has been fun to have her wear one made by one of her fav Aunties.

    Sorry to see it come to an end. I think it brought more awareness of the program. We will have to try another angle.

  3. Barbara says

    Our knitting group does many projects for charities and we enjoyed seeing how many scarves we could get done by a certain date. We will miss not doing the scarves this year and are disappointed.

  4. Barbara says

    Our knitting group is disappointed that you do not want scarves this year. We enjoy doing projects for charities.

  5. Jean Wilson says

    I am definitely upset that this has been discontinued. What did it hurt to have too many scarves made ? I would not have cared if the excess scarves were given out to homeless or donated to other organizations, or even if they would have set up a booth and sold the extra scarves to benefit the Special Olympics. I also don’t see what it could possibly have hurt Red Heart to be the sponsor – they obviously sold a ton of yarn because of it. I do think that being the sponsor, they should have had some type of coupon system associated with it, but I imagine that would have been too much to ask !!

    It seems that a large problem was people waiting until the end to send their scarves in – if that is a problem, them move the deadline back a bit so it’s not such a crunch to get them in and distributed – leave at least a month between the deadline and the last time the scarves could be distributed – it’s not that difficult !!

    I hope they will bring it back. I’m sure the athletes enjoyed receiving the scarves as much as many of us enjoyed making them. I think it’s way past time for many of these organizations to take a look at the benefits of people’s generosity and not at how much work it creates for them !!


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