Cold nights and days in the Comox Valley may be just a little bit warmer for those in need thanks to a group of local crocheters.
Known as Comox Valley Community Hats, the small group has come together to create hats for anyone who may need one in cold weather.
The hats, along with a note, are attached to trees in various outdoor spaces in the area for anyone to take at any time.
“I’m not lost,” the note inside the bag reads. “I was made to keep you warm. Feel free to take me if you are cold and enjoy your walk and the rest of your day.”
“I saw a picture online of these scarfs that were tied to trees and I thought ‘wouldn’t it be nice to do something like that?’ But I figured here in Courtenay it rains way too much, so why not put them in a bag with a note so that people think it’s not abandoned but it’s for people who need the hats,” explained Cassie LaCasse.
LaCasse, along with organizer Susan Harrison messaged each other back and forth and LaCasse said she put out some feelers on social media asking for free wool.
“I suggested it last year but we were a little too late. We just starting looping people in – who could make hats? Who could donate wool? Who’s willing to distribute?”
Currently, there are about 30 people making hats through the Facebook group Comox Valley Community Hats, and the group has completed and distributed around 80 hats, noted LaCasse.
“We don’t even know how many to make … (but we’re distributing) mostly where (people) are frequenting. We’ve been getting some feedback from people of Facebook.”
Some of the areas where hats are being attached to trees include Puntledge and Simms Park and the Courtenay Airpark.
The group is making baby-sized hats as well and are donating some directly to the soup kitchen, added Harrison.
Not just a Christmas project, Harrison plans on continuing the group well into the new year – at least until the end of January or February – or until the need is no more.
“… I personally intend to keep on crocheting and bring it all back next year and keep donating them until nobody needs hats anymore.”
Harrison said she is motivated, knowing the group is helping those who sometimes get overlooked.
“For me personally, it’s a quick little craft I can grab and do and use up scraps of yarn when I only have 10, 20 minutes here and there. It’s a bit therapeutic for me. We all have our own reasons on why we want do it.”
Similar initiatives around the country have been popping up with the onslaught of winter weather. In Halifax, a group is leaving coats, scarves and mittens tied to lamp posts and park benches; closer to home in Castlegar, ‘Kindness Scarfs’ are being left around town.
Harrison noted she is willing to teach people how to crochet a beanie, but admitted she is surprised the project even was recognized.
“I didn’t expect any kind of attention or accolades. I just wanted to go out there and quietly give hats to people. I can’t ride a bike and go up and down the Island for cancer, I can’t run; this is something I can do, something I can contribute.”
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With the overnight lows dipping to near-or-below freezing, the Comox Valley Extreme Weather Protocol has been in effect, with shelter available at 632 Pidcock Ave.
The shelter was developed to assist the homeless population of the area at times of extreme weather. A committee with representation from many organizations in the Valley have developed an Extreme Weather Response Plan.
Brent Hobdon, the Comox Valley Salvation Army’s community services director said when it is very cold, being anywhere outside is not a safe place to be.
“With any heavy winds, rain or snow the (Extreme Weather Protocol) can be implemented.”
Hobdon noted there are 18 beds available, with the possibility of adding more on demand. On average, there are about 15 guests a night who use the facility.
He added the need for warm clothes is always there.
“Any hats, socks or dry warm clothes – we’re always looking for that.”
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To donate funds, wool or completed hats, scarves or mittens, visit Great Clips in Courtenay at 3175 Cliffe Ave. #2 or search for Comox Valley Community Hats on Facebook.