Feel the Bern: London writer raises money for charity with crochet doll

A London writer has raised over £200 for charity by making a crochet doll of US Senator Bernie Sanders.

Sarah Woolley, from Bethnal Green in East London, donated £230 to Arts Emergency last week following an eight day auction of the toy Senator.

She was inspired by the success of American crocheter Tobey King, whose own crochet Sanders doll raised $20,000 last month for a US meals on wheels charity.

PROUD PARENT: Woolley with her Sanders toy which she made to raise money for the charity Arts Emergency

Woolley said: “I was gobsmacked and really moved that people would bid.

“I’d like to thank everyone who bid on Bernie.

“It’s been so heartening to see how generous people can be, even when times are tough.”

Arts Emergency is a charity which helps underprivileged 16-25 year-olds enter the arts and humanities industries.

Woolley said: “I chose to auction Bernie for Arts Emergency because they’re just a proper joy factory who give young people a fair start in things like journalism, fashion, art, and film.

“That seemed really fitting because the real-life Bernie Sanders is always championing a fairer world with free education and healthcare.

“We lose so much when people from unrepresented backgrounds don’t get to shine in the arts and the pandemic is only going to make it harder so Arts Emergency’s work feels more relevant than ever today,” she said.

“Plus I’m just a massive fan of Josie Long who is one of the founders.”

Lucy Newton, Arts Emergency Fundraising Manager, said: “All donated money goes towards our charitable objectives.

“In practice this means supporting over 1,000 underrepresented young people into the creative industries via mentoring, networking, opportunities and advice.”

The charity’s flagship programme is its mentoring service, which runs for a year, and matches mentees with people working in their area of interest.

“Mentoring has the power to change lives,” said Newton.

“Mentees gain confidence and connections that help them to plan their next steps and succeed on their chosen path.”

Woolley spent 35 hours over three days making the Bernie doll, sharing her progress via Twitter as she perfected the Senator’s glasses and fluffy white hair.

While she was stitching the Senator together, pictures of the real-life Sanders’ inauguration appearance were going viral.

“I knew I had to act fast as a meme doesn’t last long in 2021,” she said.

“Overall I love the result. He’s so jazzy!”

This is not the first time Woolley has used her creative skills to raise money for a good cause.

Since October she has been helping her friend Cara raise money towards her medical costs crowd-funder with a #CrochetForCara campaign.

This involves Woolley making and sending crochet gifts to people all over the world as a thank you for their donations to the fundraiser.

So far she has raised £2,500 and crocheted more than 80 items – many of them model’s of people’s cats, she added.

Thanks to the fundraiser, there has been increased demand for Woolley’s crochet creations.

She recently opened her own Etsy shop, YarnerDelRey, which she describes as “the go-to place for anyone who needs a pair of Bernie Mitten Earrings in their life.”

“I’m always open to requests, too,” she added.

She is also planning to do more fundraisers and would love to do a raffle to get more donors on board.

“For now, I’m coming up with ideas for what (or who) to crochet next,” she said.

“Part of me has always wanted to make John McDonnell in his red jumper…”

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