If you need one, take one: Group leaves warm clothes where they’ll be found

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Winter is quickly approaching, and a few volunteers hoped their warmth will keep others warm this season.

This time of year, lots of people decorate trees. One group spent Saturday afternoon dressing them.

“We set them up here for people just to take one if they need to,” said Cathy Ortiz. She’s donating winter clothing, along with some friends and family, to anyone who needs it.

“Whether they’re homeless or just lost their job or just can’t afford a scarf or hat,” she said.

Instead of taking the scarves, hats, and gloves to a shelter (“We do that, too,” Ortiz said), the small group tied and hung the articles in trees at two locations: on the corner of Market and Cameron streets and at the Harrisburg train station.

Notes attached to the pieces read, “I’m not lost. If you’re cold and need a scarf, take one.”

“It’s a real nice gesture,” said Janice Rose. She’s not homeless, but she got cold waiting for a bus for two hours.

The scarf helped.

“And hot coffee,” she added, sipping from the cup Ortiz gave her. “Don’t forget that.”

Ortiz can’t take credit for the idea; she saw it in another city. She thought if it can work there, why not here?

“Just a little gesture like this will go a long way,” she said.

She knows better than most: Years ago, Ortiz found herself homeless.

“And luckily, I had family to go to,” she said. “But going through a divorce and losing my home and all of that with my daughter was very difficult.”

Better off now, she’s reaching out.

“There’s people in the streets, and it seems like they’re forgotten about,” she said. “If they’re not in the shelter, they’re not going to know that we have these things for them.”

“And a lot of people are going to really benefit from that,” Rose said. “They’re going to be blessed.”

If you’d like to help out with the group’s efforts or donate clothing, you can contact Ortiz at cathyortiz24@gmail.com.

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