Knitter with giving heart helps Chase the Chill

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Tags saying “I am not lost,” and inviting people in the cold to help themselves to an item, adorn each cold weather accessory on the fence in front of New River Rent-All on West Main Street in Radford.

Heather Bell

Barbara Van Dyke was watching the news on television one evening when she saw a story on an Easton, PA-based organization called Chase the Chill.

Founded in 2008, Chase the Chill collects handmade items, such as hats and scarves, and hangs them around the town for people to take if they need something to help keep them warm.

The story involved the Chase the Chill effort in Lynchburg, the only place in Virginia Van Dyke knows of that was doing the effort at the time.

“I saw a story on the news on TV about it, and I thought, ‘This is something I can do.,” said Van Dyke  on a chilly, foggy morning this past Monday while hanging the donated items. “I like to help people and do things for people. And I love to knit.”

Tags saying “I am not lost,” and inviting people in the cold to help themselves to an item, adorn each cold weather accessory on the fence in front of New River Rent-All on West Main Street in Radford.

Van Dyke lives in Snowville and thought the City of Radford was the perfect sized community to manage for her first time heading up the donation drive so she enlisted the help of Radford area businesses New River Rent All and Sew Biz. New River Rent All allowed use of their fence for hanging the items for distribution and Sew Biz serves as a collection site for items to be donated.

Van Dyke got approval from Radford City Council for the project and then began handing out flyers to various knitting groups seeking donations. The items donated must be handmade, making donors a bit more specialized than your run of the mill clothing drive.

The fence in front of New River Rent-All is colorful with the hats, gloves and scarves placed there by Barbara Van Dyke.

“The response has been amazing,” she said. “I can’t believe it and I just thank everyone so much.”

Looking over the beautiful assortment on the fence, Van Dyke looks proud and wistful. She said she envisions making it a yearly

“We never know what people are going though,” she said. “There are so many people out there who need help.”