The Idea of Tying Warm Clothing to Trees in Bitter Cold Places Heats Up

It's really heartwarming, too.

— -- The bitter cold temperatures taking over many towns and cities in North America have prompted a pay-it-forward scheme to help strangers keep warm.

The practice of tying hats, scarfs, mittens and gloves to trees, with a note explaining that the items are there for the taking, was started with a "scarf bombing" in Easton, Pennsylvania. The Facebook group called Chase the Chill, the Original, describes itself as "an annual graffiti/yarn bombing event that distributes scarves in public places so that those in need — regardless of income and without any qualifiers — can help themselves."

The do-good group has spawned several Chase the Chill organizations in other cities. The most recent is Chase the Chill of Central Georgia, which hosted its first event Saturday. Founder Carrie Sexton called it a "complete success."

Of the 144 scarves and a few hats the group collected and distributed, only four were left Sunday.

Sexton said she was inspired to start her own group when she saw a photo on Facebook posted by the original Chase the Chill Group.

"The picture was of a bust in a square, with a bright purple scarf tied around the statue's neck. What struck me was the tag on the scarf. It simply said, 'I am not lost! If you're stuck out in the cold take this scarf to keep warm!' I instantly said to myself, 'I can do that. I want to do that!"'

There's a group in Chillicothe, Ohio. The project has also spread to Canada, with groups formed in Ottawa, Edmonton and Winnipeg.

"I truly hope that people pay it forward with a good deed," Sexton said. "At least one person has already done that. On Sunday when I collected the remaining scarves, I found a hat tied to a post that I did not put there."