By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger
DAVENPORT — In her search for a confirmation service project for eighth-graders, Lisa Willows found something that benefits others in the community and brings religious education and Catholic school students together. “Chase the Chill” involved students in crocheting scarves for homeless people, said Willows, catechetical ministries assistant at Our Lady of Victory Parish. The parish also serves John F. Kennedy Catholic School.
Willows learned about Chase the Chill online. Founded in Pennsylvania in 2008, the project celebrates “the art and beauty of knitting and crocheting, building community, generative positive interest in a location, and sharing with others.”
Participants make handmade scarves and distribute them in public places, draping them on trees, tying them to light poles or leaving them in other areas where individuals who are cold could take one. Willows said she has worked with the City of Davenport to ensure that city staffers don’t inadvertently remove the scarves the students made.
On Jan. 31, following the 11 a.m. Mass, the confirmands headed downtown to tie the scarves to trees and lamp posts along the riverfront. “Our hope is to help create awareness of the difference that kindness can make in people’s attitudes, feelings and actions towards themselves and others when it’s embraced as a way of life.” A note tied to each scarf reads: “I am not lost! If you are stuck out in the cold, please take this to keep you warm!”
Willows said parishioners made and/or donated scarves as well. JFK teachers Julie Bauer and Elisha Kubalsky said they got off to a later start than planned, but students really supported the idea. The teachers explained the project in one class period and in another class period the students learned to crochet. They have “welcomed using their recess time twice a week to do this project,” Bauer said. “This has been a parish-wide project,” she added.
During Advent the students collected winter clothing for Humility of Mary Shelter in Davenport. They added handmade scarves to the project. Parishioners dropped off scarves in the church’s gathering space. Yarn also was donated for students to use.
Student Brynn Weiss looked forward to crocheting because she already knows how to knit. She said there’s a difference between the two, but she enjoyed learning a new skill. She said making scarves to give to people who cannot afford them is showing that the scarf makers care for others. Her friend Aliyah Petz said crocheting was new to her also, and she had a lot of fun doing it. “We are blessed and this is a great cause. We are helping others who can’t afford a scarf. We are making them feel good, too.”
“This all ties in with mercy,” said Kubalsky.