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DuVall crocheting warmth for those in need in Kamloops

·3 min read

Kamloopsians may notice trees and sign posts in the 300-block of Tranquille Road in North Kamloops dressed for the winter months with homemade scarves and toques — but, hopefully, not for long.

Brocklehurst resident Cathy DuVall has been crocheting the botanical winter wear for the past 20 years, leaving them behind on the trees and posts for anyone in need to take, free of charge.

DuVall will place the clothing about once a year when the cold weather sets in, but can’t recall how she initially got the idea to place them out on the street.

“Just kind of a lightbulb that went poof — big time,” she said.

This year, DuVall has crafted about 270 scarves and 140 toques, up from about 240 scarves and 120 toques last year.

If her arthritis isn’t acting up, she usually finishes about 10 scarves a day.

As was the case last year, DuVall is again donating some of the clothing to social agencies such as the ASK Wellness Society and the Kamloops Food Bank to distribute.

To ensure people know where to find one, DuVall leaves the clothing items exclusively on the north side of Tranquille Road between the North Shore Health Science Centre and the intersection with MacKenzie Road.

As of Oct. 21, most of the items had already been claimed after being hung up on Oct. 18.

The initiative started two decades ago when DuVall noticed three women at the corner of Fortune Drive and Eighth Street, freezing in the cold weather. DuVall was on her way to her mother’s house to wash a batch of scarves, but decided to instead give them to the women.

From that she got the idea to start crocheting scarves for people in need.

The act of charity has grown and gained publicity for DuVall over the years.

She relies on donations of yarn to determine how many scarves and toques she makes every winter, the number of which grew exponentially last year when she began getting media attention and posting requests for yarn on Facebook.

Before that, she was only be able to produce smaller batches over the years.

DuVall started the initiative as a way to help the homeless population, but she encourages anyone in need of bundling up to take one of her scarves or toques.

“I’ve struggled. Raising my kids, I was a single parent on welfare,” she said. “I know what it’s like, it’s not easy. And I love to help people.”

DuVall gets plenty of compliments every year when she hangs the clothing.

“A lot of people are so thankful that I’m doing this,” she said, adding she has seen homeless individuals and seniors on low income taking the winter wear whenever she’s been in the area.

“And a lot of them are repeat customers,” DuVall said.

Unfortunately, a number of DuVall’s scarves were apparently burned sometime overnight from Monday (Oct. 18) to Tuesday (Oct. 19).

Niki Dawson Davis, who owns a business next to one of the scarf-covered trees, said she noticed, while opening her studio Tuesday morning, that the scarves were gone. Pieces of charred yarn were on the ground and there were burn marks on the tree.

“It’s heartbreaking,” Davis said, noting she posted about the incident on social media.

DuVall told KTW it saddened her for a few minutes — until she began feeling sorry for the person who lit the fire.

Visiting with KTW on Thursday, DuVall decided to tie a new batch of scarves to the burned tree.

DuVall said she loves crocheting the clothing and suggests anyone who wants to do the same should knit scarves or toques and give it to a social agency in town that collects winter clothing — or give them to someone in need.

“That’s what it’s all about, it’s not about me, it’ about helping people.”

Michael Potestio, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Kamloops This Week

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