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Volunteers help Chase the Chill in New Westminster

377 scarves, toque and cold-weather accessories have been distributed in Hyack Square and to non-profits helping folks in need

A yarn-bombing of scarves and toques took place in Hyack Square on Saturday – all with the goal of helping to keep folks warm on cold days.

New West resident Dee Cavanagh launched the local Chase the Chill initiative in 2018, with the goal of distributing handcrafted toques, scarves and cool weather accessories to community members.

Cavanagh said 11 people contributed 377 handmade items to this year’s Chase the Chill program – 229 scarves, 118 hats, 15 cowls and five headbands.

“Isn’t that amazing?” she said. “Two ladies actually brought 100 each. Isn’t that something? Some of them have done it before; actually, most of them have done it before. My husband, he makes a lot. He made stuff all year.”

Cavanagh said her hubby, Ed, loom-knitted 33 scarves and seven hats for Chase the Chill 2022.

“Two ladies came and helped Ed and I put them all up,” she added. “There were so many, so it was good to have their help.”

On Saturday, items were draped over tree branches, tied around light poles, and laid out on a cement ledge in Hyack Square. Passersby were invited to take items home.

“This one lady said, ‘I have never seen anything as sweet as this.’ And then she said, ‘It makes me so happy,’” Cavanagh told the Record. “It’s quite something.”

The local Chase the Chill initiative is based on an event started in Easton, Pennsylvania in 2008, which subsequently spread to cities in the United States and Canada. After hearing of the initiative, Cavanagh launched it in New West in 2018.

Items have been dispersed each December, with the exception of a one-year hiatus in 2020 because of COVID. The contributions have increased through the years, with this year’s effort almost quadrupling the 110 items given out in Hyack Square during the first event in 2018.

While everyone is welcome to help themselves to the handmade items regardless of income, the hope is that some of the items get to folks in need – to chase the chill on the cold days and nights they may face if they’re outdoors.

“For the last month I have been watching the weather and thinking, ‘I hope it doesn’t rain or snow too much because I really couldn’t have it then. I was so glad with the weather,” Cavanagh said. “It was just perfect.

For more information or to help, contact Cavanagh on the Chase the Chill New Westminster page on Facebook.

“Anybody that is interested can contribute,” Cavanagh said. “We took the leftover items to Purpose Society and Lookout Society.”



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