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2015 March 16 - 11:34 pm

Nursing Student Gives Away Scarves, Gloves

Effort Aimed at Helping Homeless, Needy Stay Warm

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — The drab concrete environment of Slack Plaza near the downtown transit mall never looked quite so colorful as it did Feb. 14.

Starting at about 10:30, Angie Dunkle, her husband, Kyle, Charleston City Councilwoman Susie Salisbury and Salisbury’s daughter, Carmen, began knotting colorful knitted, crocheted, woolen and fleece scarves, as well as gloves and hand-warming packets, around the flagpoles and trees that dot the plaza.

Each scarf bore a simple tag, written in capital letters on a bitingly cold Valentine’s Day morning: “I am not lost! If you are cold, please take me to bundle up!” And so, needy, cold people did, stopping to examine the offerings, unknotting a scarf and wrapping it around their necks, donning gloves or pocketing a handwarmer packet.

Dunkle watched from the sidelines, pleased that a simple idea was working so simply.

She got the idea in a simple way, too, from seeing a photo on social media.

“I saw a picture on Facebook that somebody had, in a big city, collected scarves and put them on trees in a public area with a tag that said: ‘I’m not lost, if you’re cold, bundle up.’ And I thought how easy to do that in Charleston,” she said. “We have a pretty prevalent homeless population and everybody has scarves. It was an easy fit.’’ Dunkle, a resident of Kenna and a 30-year-old nursing student at Bridge Valley Community Technical College, won the 2015 Mrs.

West Virginia Mentor pageant in Clarksburg in January. Unlike other pageants, it is based more on community service.

“This one kind of looks at what you do in your community and your impact,” she said. ``So, community service and giving back has always been really important to me.’’ When Dunkle saw the Facebook photo of donated scarves wrapped around trees, she knew she’d found her project.

She contacted Salisbury, wondering if she needed permission.

Salisbury told her to just do it, then showed up with her daughter and extra scarves and gloves to help festoon the plaza with a little more warmth — or as Dunkle put it, “to spread the love on Valentine’s Day.”

They wrapped more than 40 scarves on poles and trees. Fairly quickly, passersby noticed and began wrapping them around their necks. Dunkle didn’t care if the person was homeless or just in need of warmth on a cold winter’s day.

“I hope that if anyone is walking by and they see the scarves and they need something, they’re cold, they’d don’t have a jacket, they don’t have anything, that they’ll take it. I just hope that whoever needs these items, takes them,’’ she said.

She had also called in advance to the Crossroads shelter, the Roark-Sullivan Lifeway Center and Sojourner’s, to let them know to tell their residents what was up on Slack Plaza that day.

Larry Taylor and Leonard Ball were among the first takers, walking up to the scarf crew as they were starting their efforts.

“Gloves and a scarf,” Taylor requested.

Ball had on a thin scarf already, but Dunkle insisted he take a thick black woolen scarf to replace it.

“Thank you. God bless you all,” said Ball, as he and his friend donned the scarves and strode off.

One man eyed a festooned pole and grabbed a handwarmer packet.

Another took a survey of several poles and trees, then wrapped a long black-and-white striped scarf around his neck. Another woman, Lisa Moubray, was delighted to find a colorful blue-and-green scarf and hat set. “My grandbaby would wear something like that, so I’ll wear it in honor of her.”

As they eyed the plaza, the scarf crew chatted about how they might expand the project.

“We were just plotting for how we’re going to grow this next year,” Salisbury said.

“Carmen said maybe make it a school project,” Dunkle added. “Get more of the Charleston Area Alliance involved. This was all, like, two weeks’ worth of planning, two weeks of gathering. So, maybe next year, start it around Christmas time, because this is a really, really populated area of people that need.”

Dunkle received donated scarves from several sources.

“I’ve been collecting scarves for two weeks. I put a box at my church, I put a box where I go to school. And just word of mouth on Facebook,” she said. “Most scarves I received still had the tags. I think people have purchased scarves because it’s kind of end-of-season for that clothing item. I think they’ve purchased scarves on sale for this initiative.”

Dunkle hopes the simplicity of the scarf effort will inspire other people.

“It was so easy. I saw a picture and I was inspired. And it just took a couple keystrokes and clicks to get this amount of scarves,” she said.

``Everybody has scarves. How easy to tie them out, to let people come and get them. And I feel like it’s going to make a big impact for these people.’’

Video: http://youtu.be/R7vhDq_1AVs Information from: The Charleston Gazette, http://www.wvgazette.com

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