By Ukee Washington


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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Colorful hats, mittens, and more are appearing in unexpected public places in Philadelphia and South Jersey. They come with no strings attached.

A South Jersey woman is behind the winter wear. Mary Castor was diagnosed with breast cancer a few years ago, but she didn’t let it stop her.

“I tackled it with a positive attitude knowing that I was going to beat it,” Castor said. “And when I realized that I did beat it, I knew I was here for another reason.”

That reason is on full display in Rittenhouse Square.

During a lunch break from her law office job, Castor is using clothespins to attach colorful hats, gloves and scarves to the park fence.

“We’re actually hanging them on the fence so that people who are homeless or cold can come and take them and be kept warm,” Castor said.

And she makes sure anyone who walks by knows that they’re free for the taking. A tag explains her mission, which she calls Collecting for a Cause.

“I am not lost,” the tag reads. “I was put here in case you need me to keep warm. If you don’t need me, please leave me here for someone who does. God bless you.”

Many of the scarves are handmade by Castor or other volunteers.

Castor, who lives in Lindenwold, New Jersey, also leaves them in places like Camden. Sometimes she hangs them on school fences for kids to find.

Co-worker Kate Sibel wasn’t surprised to find out Castor was working on this project.

“She’s very modest. She cares so much about other people,” Sibel said. “It just totally fits her personality, so we plan to contribute in whatever way we can.”

This is the first year Castor is doing this winter giveaway, but she organizes other collections for other community groups all year.

To get in touch with Collecting for a Cause, go to their website or find them on Facebook.

Ukee Washington