(Most recent update: March 8, 2010: Near the end are pictures of dolls made by a reader. Hers are going to Haiti!)
I recently ran across this site asking for people to knit these simple dolls for African AIDS orphans. What they do is use these dolls in place of packing material around supplies that get shipped over there. When the supplies are unpacked, the dolls are given out to the kids. They strongly suggest using brown yarn, rather than pink btw.
You can crochet or knit these dolls very fast. You can use up left over yarn since they are not that big (about 5″). The main mailing site is to Canada but they do offer options. I intend to knit one between projects and hopefully have a pile by the end of the year to send off. If I can get friends to do it as well, even better. If you would rather knit something else, they are fine with that too. You can also adjust this pattern as much as you wish. I do not follow it exact either. They are happy and tickled to get anything. The pattern and further details are located at this link: (below picture. Having troubles with wordpress today)
http://www.squidoo.com/african-knit-dolls This site also mentions where to mail these directly (Canada). I will be adding a few more adresses (US) of people volunteering to mail any you send to them. When these people get enough, they send them on to Canada. Let me know if you would like to seriously add yourself to the list.
Another pattern is located here: http://www.creativestitchonline.com/pattern.html Feel free to change things in these patterns. I base my dolls on this pattern.
Let me know if you knit any of these! Here are a few from a reader below. Thank you Charlotte!
More Charity Knits:
If you would like a more complicated toy to knit with a specific charity attached see Hococo the Lemur listed on my knitting links page (that I am slowly building). This one is for Madagascar children. They request at least one be used to raise money for them or you can send a direct donation. It is an Alan Dart pattern which is fantastic so it is only fair to donate for this.
Charity Doll for Uthando Project: http://www.uthandoproject.org/how-to-participate/one-piece-knitted-doll.php This pattern may also be used for the charity listed up top with the other doll as well. The Uthando project is also for orphins in Africa.
Be sure to check out my main site for more things to do. Some are knitting related, some are not. I try to keep a variety. Continuously adding as I have time and ideas. :) http://virtuallyamy.wordpress.com