My first charity project was a prayer/healing shawl for my church. Instead of using the k3p3, I just used a simple garter stitch. The only requirement was that I use Lion Brand Yarn Homespun (not a fan) and the garter stitch seemed to look a bit better that the k3p3 pattern. I've since made another and will start on yet another in the coming weeks.
I had the unfortunate experience of seeing the last shawl I made given to a lady in my church who had been recently diagnosed with breast ca. On a good note, her prognosis is very good.