From a distance, it might look like a strange case of misplaced clothes, or even litter.
A jacket, a scarf, some mittens – taped to a telephone pole or wrapped around a tree, with a note on the front.
It’s all part of a growing trend in some Canadian and American communities, to decorate public spaces not with lights and ornaments, but with winter clothing for anyone who might need it.
“This is something people can actually see and hopefully it would inspire them to do the same,” Eau Claire, Wisc., resident Sandie Richgruber told WEAU News.
Richgruber was inspired by a post on the city of Chetek’s Facebook page showing a winter jacket and scarf taped to a telephone pole.
“I am not lost,” the laminated note reads. “Please take me if you need me. Stay warm this winter.”
Richgruber then put out a post on an Eau Claire for sale site asking for donations to do something similar in her community.
“I posted it and in a day I had almost 400 likes on that post, so I definitely thought I need to do something,” Richgruber said. She says she got permission from the city attorney to put up clothing in two of the city’s biggest parks.
The idea of leaving winter clothing in public spaces is nothing new to Canadians.
Last winter, Global News reported on a Regina group called Chase the Chill, which left winter clothing on trees, light posts and telephone poles.
“I think it’s really important, there’s a lot of needy, homeless people who need these type of things that aren’t always going to ask for help or won’t always go to a shelter,” Dianne Mursell, founder of Chase The Chill, told Global News.
And last month, the same group decorated trees in Core Community Park with hats, scarves, mittens and gloves along with a similar note welcoming people in need to help themselves to any items they might need.
Similar anonymous donations of winter clothing were also reported in:
“People are homeless, people are cold,” Gabby Kaper told KCEN-News. “Five dollars to make five people less freezing, five dollars to make someone sleep a little better tonight. Five dollars may be very little to me but very important to another. I encourage everyone to give this a try this season.”
And then there’s groups like The Wrap Up, whose spin on the “clothing decoration” trend sees them decorate fence rails with scarves in what the group refers to as “scarf-bombing” a location.