MAYS LANDING - Students at the George L. Hess School made an effort after winter break to share some wintertime warmth with community members in need.

They collected donations of hats, scarves and gloves for a couple weeks. On Saturday, three teachers spent the morning carefully displaying the items in the gazebo at Gaskill Park. The items were left in the park until Monday afternoon so that anyone who needed an item could retrieve it privately and conveniently. Anything leftover will be saved for next year.

The gazebo was decorated with brightly-colored scarfs looped around the railings, and a clothesline inside provided the perfect place to display hats and gloves.

This was the first Cozy in the Cold event sponsored by the school. Hess School staff members Kim Smith, Sherry Prior and Stacy Weiner spearheaded the effort after coming up with the idea just days before students were dismissed for winter break. They were inspired by a video about the Scarves in the Park Movement.

“Being someone who likes to crochet and knowing our population of students and families, many of whom are in need, I thought it would be interesting to have this in our school,” Smith said. “It ended up being more than just scarves and more than just handmade things. People donated hats, scarves and gloves in all different sizes.”

They were hoping that parents and family members of students who knew how to knit or crochet would donate, said Prior. In the short time that students have been back in school this month, they gathered 110 donations of handmade, new or gently used items, and all items were cleaned before being displayed.

This year, organizers kept Cozy in the Cold as a small-scale event, treating it like a pilot program. They are hoping community members who need the items will take them, reinforcing their belief that the program will work. The goal is to expand next year with more donations and student participation in the giveaway. They also are considering adding a few hours during the weekend when students and teachers will remain in the area for distribution, said Smith.

Leaving the items out for the weekend will remain an important part of the event, according to the organizers.

“I personally know a lot of families who are struggling but they don’t ever want to say it,” Smith said. “If there is something that you need, you don’t always want to ask for help from others. So by leaving it here, we are giving them the opportunity to come at a time that is convenient, private and personal for them and take whatever they may need for themselves or their families.”

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