Downtown Athol to be covered in scarves, hats for annual “scarf bombing”

Scarves, each awaiting a new owner, line the railing near the Athol Area YMCA during the “scarf bombing” held in January 2023. The distribution of hats, scarves and mittens—which has been held for the last decade—will be held on Jan. 7.

Scarves, each awaiting a new owner, line the railing near the Athol Area YMCA during the “scarf bombing” held in January 2023. The distribution of hats, scarves and mittens—which has been held for the last decade—will be held on Jan. 7. FILE PHOTO BY GREG VINE

Knit hats adorn a couple parking meters on Main Street in Athol following last January’s “scarf bombing” event.

Knit hats adorn a couple parking meters on Main Street in Athol following last January’s “scarf bombing” event. FILE PHOTO BY GREG VINE

By GREG VINE

For the Athol Daily News

Published: 01-03-2024 4:02 PM

ATHOL – For a decade or more, Ann Willhite, owner of Deja Vu Women’s Consignment in Athol, has been doing her part to ensure that local residents in need of some warmth during the winter have access to a little comfort, and this year will be no different.

On Sunday, Jan. 7, Willhite will continue the tradition with another “scarf bombing” of downtown Athol, set to begin at noon.

“I had heard it was being done in different places across the country – and even in Orange they did it on a much smaller scale – but that’s kind of what planted the seed for me,” Willhite said. “There’s just so much need, so I just started doing it out of the store.”

For those not familiar, this weekend’s event is a distribution of scarfs, gloves, mittens, and – for the first time this year – winter socks, which Willhite said, “are really important.” Volunteers will descend on downtown Athol and drape the items from signs, tree branches, railings—pretty much anywhere they can be placed and hopefully taken by those in need. Willhite is hoping for more contributions to the cause over the next few days.

“My best year was 628 items,” she explained. “This year I’m a little concerned; I’ve got almost 300, and that’s down from last year. So, yes, I’m a little concerned, but I’ve done another push on Facebook, and I’ve had some responses, and I know Starrett Memorial Church has been doing collections on Sundays for a while, so I know they’ll be bringing me a bunch, but I don’t know how many. Still, I anticipate we’re going to fall short of our goal. But we’re going to do it regardless.”

Willhite said anyone willing to donate items can drop them off at Deja Vu, located at 479 Main St., during regular business hours. The store will be open until 6 p.m. today, from 4 to 7 p.m. on Friday, and from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday. Willhite said last-minute donations can be made Sunday morning.

“The volunteers will head out at noon,” she said, “but I’ll be in the store at 10.”

One thing she never falls short of, according to Willhite, is volunteers.

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“A lot of my volunteers have been to every single one—they have not missed one,” Willhite said. “So that’s really nice to know I have a really solid band of volunteers.

“We do Main Street on both side. We do the bus stop and the Y – that area – we do Veterans Park and we do the Uptown Common. And if there’s enough, we’ll do the Town Hall and the library area, and as far up Exchange Street, on both sides, that we can.”

Never, she said, has she had to go around downtown collecting items that have gone unused.

“The first year I did it, of course, I had to run it by Town Hall,” she said. “They did say that if there is anything left after a week I had to go around and collect them all, otherwise they sort of become trash and littering. But I have never, ever had to do that.”

Greg Vine can be reached at gvineadn@gmail.com.