By RONDA GREGORY
News & Journal Staff Writer
Two Harrison County childhood friends spread some fuzzy warmth and love during this frigid winter weather for people in Clarksburg just three days before St. Valentine’s Day. Taking inspiration from a nationwide program (Chase the Chill) started in Pennsylvania by Susan Huxley, Lumberport resident Amanda Lindsey and Bridgeport resident Megan Snider collected or created and then distributed 200 handmade cold-weather scarves, gloves, mittens and hats throughout public places in the city.
This citywide “yarn bombing” involved wrapping the scarves on lamp posts, sticking others in the pockets of chain-linked fences and putting them on benches at the bus station, Lindsey said.
“We strategically picked locations where we knew people would be,” she explained.
Snider said this was her favorite part of the project – the distribution.
“I enjoyed seeing everyone on board and understanding what we were about,” Snider added.
The Chase the Chill project is more of a “pay-it-forward” event than an effort to help only the needy, Lindsey explained.
She said while they’re quite pleased if someone in need takes one of the items, the gifts are there for anyone “regardless of income”.
Snider added that the project doesn’t target specific types of individuals. “Anybody could take an item,” she said. “It was for everybody.”
By the outcome, it was a success. That evening when the women revisited the drop-off sites to collect what was left, only four items remained unclaimed.
Their gifts to strangers (or rather, “unmet friends”) are all handmade – most are crocheted or knitted, though some fleece items were sewn.
“I think that a handmade item means more than a store-bought one,” Lindsey said. “You put your time into making this, and also, a lot of love goes into making them.”
Snider agreed, adding that she just this fall learned to crochet.
“I used to buy things off of Amanda,” she said. “But I taught myself how to crochet in October, and it has kind of taken off since.”
About ten people actually made the handmade goods, but “we also had many others who donated yarn,” Lindsey said.
So people would know the items were theirs for the taking, each one had a snowman-logoed tag attached that read: “I am NOT lost! Take this (named item) if you are cold or if you like it. Chase the Chill in West Virginia”.
Lindsey and Snider said they plan to do the next Chase the Chill in WV a bit earlier.
“We’d like to do another yarn bombing in the fall, probably in November,” Lindsey said. “We’d like to get the cold-weather accessories out before the frigid weather moves in. I think we could easily triple the number of items for this next drop.”
They welcome handmade donations. Those interested can find out more on their Facebook page at Chase the Chill in WV, or drop off items at The Rushing Wind Church in Spelter or at Standard Dental Laboratories in Glen Elk.