Don’t be surprised if you spot a flurry of scarves and hats scattered through Lancaster and Columbia as temperatures drop.
These handmade cold-weather accessories are free for the taking, thanks to a group of knitters, crocheters and crafters. The Wrap Up Project’s continuing a cold-weather tradition started locally to help others, with no strings attached.
Angelia Reed of Lancaster Township started the scarfbombing in 2014 as a way to give something warm to people who are homeless or simply in need. Also important is each item is handmade. While the scarves, hats and gloves give warmth, they also let people know that someone cares, Reed says.
What is a scarfbombing? It’s a riff on yarnbombing, a trend where people knit around things like trees, signs or benches. The accessories each carry a tag with this note: “I am not lost! If you’re stuck out in the cold, please take this hand-made item to keep warm!”
Last year, volunteers distributed about 500 to 600 items monthly, between Lancaster and Columbia, Reed says. The group’s continuing the work because there’s still a need.
On any given day in Lancaster County, about 360 people are homeless, according to Lancaster County Coalition to End Homelessness.
This year, the Wrap Up Project continues with monthly scarfbombings, which started in October. At one of the scarfbombings, Reed spoke with a woman and her two children in their teens as they were picking out a few items. The family had abruptly left their rented home and are now homeless. Because it’s difficult to find a shelter for families with teens, they are sleeping in a local park. The woman, who has a college degree and isn't dealing with addiction, talked about how she faced stereotypes and assumptions about her life in her search for assistance, Reed says.
That conversation, for Reed, reinforced Wrap Up's practice of leaving warm scarves for people to take without explaining their situation or proving their need.