Hundreds of homemade winter items to be placed around downtown Wausau

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By Maria Szatkowski

WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) -- Hundreds of hand-knitted and crocheted scarves, hats, mittens and blankets will grace the streets of downtown Wausau Friday night ahead of the holiday parade.

It's all thanks to a local group who makes the items, and then donates them back to the community for anyone who may need or want them.

Chase the Chill first started in Canada, but thanks to a local woman, it's now taking off in north central Wisconsin. 

"It's just interesting seeing people 'oh my gosh, I can have this? It's so pretty' or 'I'm cold.' Whether you like it or need it, you can take it," said Sarah Kreager, founder of the local chapter of Chase the Chill. "A bunch of people that are homecrafters get together, they make scarves, they donate items to make scarves, mittens, anything really for cold weather."

What's been a hobby for Kreager for years, is now a way for her to give back to the community. Chase the Chill Central Wisconsin is a group that collects and makes those handmade winter items. Members place them around fences and light posts in downtown Wausau.

"The amount of people that were interested in participating, or helping out in any way they could, whether it be with yarn or donations for funds to get more yarn, we've had people send stuff up for this year as far as Texas," said Kreager.

The winter items are out in time for Wausau's Holiday Parade.

"It was nice being able to see people throughout the time, either come by us where we were standing watching the parade, that would come and be like 'Oh, what is this? Did somebody lose their scarf?' and just being 'Nope, it's free for the taking," said Kreager.

This year, more than 300 homemade items will be out in the community on Friday.

"It's just spreading joy, spreading happiness. It's something small that I can do that if a kid needs it, or if an adult needs it, or if there's a homeless person that happenstances downtown...letting them know that people care. Even people that don't know them, still care," said Kreager.

The caring will continue, as donations are already being knitted or crocheted for next year.

"I've already started the next couple scarves that I know won't be finished by tomorrow night, so it's good that we're getting a jump start on next year already," said Kreager.