For a couple winters, Winnipeg-based artist Jennifer Paterson collected warm wearables and snacks for people who were having a rough go of it. On a few cold nights, she stood outside a homeless shelter and offered folks hot drinks, food and the chance to sift through the clothing she’d collected to find what they wanted.

She listened to their feedback, learning that most of the people on the street liked black or dark coloured hats, mitts and scarves, and that they preferred hot chocolate to coffee. She communicated this to the folks making donations to her project. Paterson says,

“Giving people a coffee, a cookie or a bar of soap are not solutions to homelessness, but they are the smaller pieces of activism that build up to greater, more lasting change. A stepping stone to pulling ones-self out of homelessness starts with feeling human, feeling that you are worth something, that you are loved and that you matter. These are feelings most of us take for granted. By giving someone a warm drink to comfort them or their own scarf to wear, you are giving that person the gift of the item, but also the gift of humanity. Often, life on the street is invisible. We see them, but dare not look them in the eye. This bridge is gapped with gift-giving. I see you. I see you are having a hard time. I care.”

This issue’s Stitching Hearts project is to make warm wearables (hats, mitts, scarves, socks, even sweaters, if you’re ambitious!) to give to people on the street. That can mean you hand craft a ton to donate to a shelter, request donations from friends to hand out on the street—much like Jennifer did—or you carry around packages with mitts and snacks to hand out to people asking for change on street corners and at stop lights. In this chilly time, let’s spread warmth and love!

And share your projects on social media to inspire others. If you use #StitchingHearts or tag @CockroachMag, I’ll be able to get some inspiration from you as well!

You can now find the Cockroach’s Stitching Hearts heroes group on Facebook where we can share ideas, offer one another support and celebrate our crafty successes!

You can support the ever-so-generous Jennifer Paterson by purchasing her art. Find her as JM.Paterson on Facebook.