I’ve had a recent medical issue that had me unable to perform even the most menial daily tasks.  I was in the ER and then spent a number of weeks in pain, confused, depressed and attending medical appointment after medical appointment.  I found myself in tears on a regular basis because of the pain, or because I couldn’t do even the simplest physical acts — and I was feeling extremely despondent and worthless.

And when I feel worthless, I want to get out my head by performing an act of service to others.  But none of my “normal” acts of service were going to work – all required effort I could not give.

And then I found Help From Home, which in turn led me to Cranes for Cancer.


Help From Home is a website with a directory filled with volunteering opportunities you can do from home.

Some are as simple & fast as a click on a website:

computer-mouse-23266_640Click a button on The Greater Good website which will give a free donation to a cause of your choice


or you can commit to a long-term project such as:


Become a long-term proofreader for Distributed Proofreaders


While you’re at Help From Home, you can choose to browse the directory in many ways, including by the type of activism (eg. environment, animal welfare, poverty, to name a few), or you can choose a list of actions by the length of time the action will take including under one minute or 30 minutes or less.

There are so many options, you’ll be able to find something appropriate for you at any time of the day or night — or at any juncture in your life.

For me, because I was dealing with illness, I needed to be able to do something small, that didn’t take a lot of time or skill in case I needed to drop it immediately.  I chose:  Cranes for Cancer

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Karen & Julie have been making origami cranes for cancer patients for 18 years!  Their site accepts donation of both time and materials in order to put together packages of 1000 Cranes to send to one patient with cancer.  Yes, 1000 for one person!  Why?  Because there’s a legend that says a person who receives the gift of 1000 cranes will in turn be granted a wish – and what a better wish than for long life or recovery from illness?


I’d never made an origami crane in my life!  So I set out to make it happen.  

I looked at a number of YouTube tutorials for making a crane, and found an excellent video that went step by step through the process in the most detailed and clear way possible.  It took me awhile, but I found Evan’s video on how to fold a traditional Origami Crane:

Note: I watched this video SO MANY TIMES – at first it took watching the video several times in order to make one crane.  And then I’d make two cranes while watching the video once through – eventually making about 5 or 6 at a time – and then finally not having to watch the video again!

You do not need to buy special paper to make cranes – yes, it’s true that good quality origami paper is easier to fold, and it doesn’t tear easily — however, especially if you are using large squares (eg: 6″ X 6″) you shouldn’t have any problems!  You can simply squares carefully with scissors or more easily with a paper cutter.


For paper, I would recommend normal printer paper.  However, once you’ve mastered the crane, you can move on to various types of paper.  I used:

  • graph paper
  • magazine paper
  • parchment paper
  • sketchbook paper
  • printed stationary paper

Note: the thicker the paper, the harder it is to fold and create crisp lines!

Another Tip:  Use the internet to find great patterns that you can print using your printer!

Even though my printer is black and white I was able to find various designs which really changed the look of the crane.  In fact, there is a site I used called Paper Crystal which has both free and for purchase designs.  I ended up purchasing a membership so that I can have full access to all her designs, and I highly recommend it!

Across the span of a few weeks, I was able to make 300 cranes while doing the only other thing I could do – binge-watching Netflix!

As you can see, the cranes are of various types of paper, prints & sizes – I had a blast!

I shipped them in a box (it was light as a feather, but unfortunately the post office charges an arm and a leg anyhow!) and they arrived within a couple weeks at their destination.

It takes me seconds to make a crane now – maybe to a max of 2 minutes, depending on the paper type and size I’m using.  And each day I make a minimum of one crane to add to my box, in the hopes I’ll send a box or two a year to Karen & Julie!

So if you’re ever plagued by despair, be it from physical or mental illness, take a minute and find a way to serve others – you’ll be so glad you did!  It doesn’t take 10, 300 or 1000 cranes to make a difference – every single crane matters.