For the fifth year in a row, the community is coming together to provide some much needed warmth to the less fortunate and bring awareness of homelessness in McKean County by collecting new or gently used winter hats, scarves, mittens, gloves and socks as a part of the Warm It Forward clothesline project.
“Warm It Forward began as an idea of two groups within First Presbyterian Church and then expanded through the McKean County Housing Coalition as a way to share warmth and meet the needs of the community at a time of year when these items are needed and to bring awareness to the issues of homelessness and housing insecurity in our own community,” said the Rev. Katherine Randall of the First Prebyterian Church in Bradford.
For the project, clotheslines are set up by churches and agencies throughout McKean County and adorned with sealed plastic bags containing collected items, along with a card listing housing resources. Lines will go up next week to coincide with the statewide Point-In-Time count, which assesses homelessness.
“We try to focus on places where people frequently walk by or wait for buses,” explained Randall. “Some lines will remain up just for the week, and others — like the one at First Presbyterian Church — will stay up as long as we have items to share and the weather remains cold.”
Randall stated that any organization or business is welcome to put up their own line and they are more than happy to have volunteers help restock the lines and bag items.
“If you are putting up a new clothesline this year with items or if you have items you wish to donate, please contact us at First Presbyterian Church and we’ll share your items with existing lines or make sure you have the housing resources to include on your own line,” she said.
The project is sponsored by the McKean County Collaborative Board. She said support has grown annually and includes service agencies, churches and businesses.
Randall said she is “grateful to have such communitywide involvement in both helping to keep people warm and to bring awareness to homelessness and housing insecurity.”