SALT LAKE CITY — A local Facebook group is back for its fifth year of distributing handmade scarves and hats to Utahns in need during the holiday season, and this year the project is bigger than ever before.
"This year, we had — I just did the totals — 3,603 items," said founder Suzette Aposhian. "So it is huge. It's grown like crazy. And just keeps growing by leaps and bounds."
Scarfs in the Park is more than a Facebook group — it's a community where people of all talents and abilities can come together to bring a little warmth to Salt Lake City. Some volunteers knit and crochet hats and scarves, others help hang the handmade items in the park, some donate yarn and other crafting supplies for the project. Every little bit helps to make this initiative happen.
The Sandy Senior Center is the largest group to contribute to the project with handmade items.
"So we have a lot of senior centers that help participate with us. And we had some Girl Scout troops this year, we have people that donate yarn, we have people that help put on the tags, or maybe their porch is a drop off place," Aposhian said. "So there's lots of different ways people help because it really takes a huge village to pull this off."
On Saturday, group members hung some of the scarves and hats in Liberty Park. Since there were so many donations, items were also sent to homeless and domestic violence shelters, as well as to resources for low income families. The handmade items are meant for anybody who needs a helping hand during what can be a very stressful time of year.
"It's a way to give back to the community to people who are in need, and there's no strings attached. So if you know a mom needs a hat or a scarf for their child, then that's fine. Just go pick it off the fence and take it," Aposhian said.
Salt Lake City isn't the first to take on this type of project, but Aposhian says a woman in Kansas directly reached out to her this past year because she felt inspired by a YouTube video where Aposhian talked about the project.
"It was because FOX 13 had placed the story that you had done earlier and put it on YouTube, and that's how they found me," she said. "So they ended up starting their little branch out there... I'm excited to watch them grow."
The first year of the project, about 350 items were collected. Aposhian hopes they are able to donate even more items in the future and make a bigger impact for Utahns in need.
As the project sees the end of another successful year, it's already full steam ahead for 2022. They want to focus more on hats and scarves for children who may not have appropriate clothing for the winter weather.
"We pretty much turn around and start the first of the year, preparing for next year...this year, we're made aware of a lot of children that are in need," Aposhian explained. "So I think next year, we're going to focus a little bit more on children that are homeless, or in the low income schools, hoping to maybe partner with the pantries and things like that."
If you want to get involved or donate to the project, visit their Facebook page by clicking here.