In a curious case of drive-by charity, someone has tied 17 scarves around tree branches at the state Capitol downtown.
Whether tied to the trunk of an oak or dangling under the branches of a magnolia, the scarves waited for cold passersby to take them, offering no explanation except hand-written greetings on yellow paper cards.
“I am not lost,” said each scarf, purple, striped or blue. “If you are cold, take me to keep warm.”
Each card bears a hard-to-read signature in cursive: a large capital H that could start Hazel, Helen or Hans, a last name that looks like Teasley and the letters RN – suggesting a nurse. Each name finishes with a sideway smile emoticon.
Phone records show a Hattie Teasley in Raleigh who died in 1993, but nothing else that fits. No nurses with the Teasley surname show up in a Google search, and nobody at Helping Hand Mission, which passes out clothing by the ton, had a clue about the mystery donor.
“I’m surprised,” said Sylvia Wiggins, its director. “There’s nothing you can do around the Capitol that they ain’t taking pictures of.”
Whoever takes this holiday offering, Raleigh’s need runs high. At last count, the Raleigh Rescue Mission estimated the area’s homeless population at 4,000 – more than half of them students in public schools.
But who took the time to write out more than a dozen Christmas cards to strangers, and where does one person even get 17 scarves?
The temperature drops to 39 degrees tonight, and 17 people could be warmer. The reason doesn’t matter.