For the second year in a row, an initiative to provide anyone in need of them with warm winter accessories will utilize a section of fence along the Saucon Rail Trail in Hellertown.
Hellertown Borough Council Monday unanimously gave the grassroots effort known as “Project Keep Hellertown Warm” permission to tie or attach knit hats, gloves and scarves to the split rail fence, which is located next to the Water Street trail crossing, beginning this month.
This year donors will be invited to tie their own new or gently-used donations of winter accessories to the fence, which will also bear laminated signage that explains the project.
Donations will also be accepted by appointment at the offices of Saucon Source LLC, 656 Main St., First Floor, Hellertown, and beginning Friday at the following locations:
- Doggy Dao & Cat’s Meow, 1238 Main St., Hellertown, Pa.
- Kindred Spirits Books & Gifts, 66 W. Water St., Hellertown, Pa.
- A Furry Tail Come True, 26 Main St., Hellertown, Pa.
- H&R Block, 13 Main St., Hellertown, Pa.
Project Keep Hellertown Warm began last year as a volunteer-based, “pay-it-forward-type” initiative of Saucon Source.
“The goal of Project Keep Hellertown Warm is to help anyone in need of warmth, with no questions asked,” said Saucon Source owner and publisher Josh Popichak. “Whether it’s someone who is walking the trail and happens to be underdressed, or a single parent who is struggling to make ends meet and can’t afford hats and gloves for their kids, our goal is to make these items easily and anonymously accessible, and thereby to promote the health and well-being of everyone in our community.”
A goal of the group is to ensure that the fence area remains neat and attractive, which is why volunteers will continually monitor it and temporarily remove items if it becomes overcrowded with donations, Popichak told council.
Although the donated items are out in the elements and may become briefly wet or frozen, they’re air-dried by the sun and wind that blows through the fence, he added.
Last year, numerous Project Keep Hellertown Warm volunteers collected and tied well over 100 items to the fence, which had to be refilled periodically as items were taken off it from early January through late February.
This year the group will continue its mission, which includes raising awareness about the “invisible poor” in Saucon Valley, Popichak said. People in this category may be struggling financially because of unemployment, underemployment, rising health care costs or any number of issues, but unwilling to discuss their circumstances out of embarrassment.
“I think there is sometimes a perception that only homeless people need help with food and clothing, and that because Saucon Valley has few homeless people that the need just isn’t here,” Popichak said. “I don’t subscribe to that particular point of view. I think there are many families here who are barely scraping by, and are too proud to ask for help. These people are part of a demographic Project Keep Hellertown Warm hopes to help.”
For more information, or to get involved with Project Keep Hellertown Warm, please join the PKHW Facebook group.
An official “start date” for this year’s effort will be announced there in the near future, along with updates about the donation area as the winter progresses.
Popichak said that with colder temperatures and even a chance of snow showers in the forecast for next week, that start date will be soon.