The phenomenon has spread to hundreds of cold-weather cities in recent years.
Since 2015, every time the weather turns cold in Bristol, England, a volunteer movement called Keep Bristol Warm gets to work peppering the city’s landscape with scarves and gloves tied to rails and posts. The items are placed strategically, with notes attached assuring anyone who needs them that, yes, they’re free for the taking.
The messages all read something to the effect of, “I am not lost. If you are in need, please take me to keep warm.”
Three winters ago, Gavyn Emery started placing the warming clothing in public areas in the hopes that the less fortunate would use them to stay warm. Since then, the effort has grown steadily, thanks to press coverage and social media sharing — to the point that the wares have now become part of the city’s landscape.
Similar initiatives under various names have surfaced in dozens of other communities. More than 40 cities around the world are home to Chase the Chill, a similar effort that aims to supply homeless and poor people with the necessities to survive winter weather. The organization’s website offers a list of participating cities, as well as the resources to begin new local chapters.
Sometimes it doesn’t take much more than a few volunteers and a handful of donations to make a big difference for those in need.