Julie Cotton Whitfield didn’t mind the early morning chill — she knew that what she was doing would help others stay warm.
By 7:30 Tuesday morning she had placed 35 bundles of scarves, gloves and toboggans on poles and trees around the Wayne County Courthouse block.
She had spent more than an hour Monday night bundling the items together in preparation of her Tuesday morning work.
Each has a message: “I am not lost: I am a blessing. Take me & receive your blessing. Use me to stay warm. God bless you and MERRY CHRISTmas!”
Whitfield had planned to go about starting her annual “Wrapped in Love” project on Monday, but decided to wait until Tuesday morning because of Monday’s mild weather.
It is the second year that Whitfield has done “Wrapped with Love,” an idea she first saw in a Facebook posting last year where someone in another state was doing it.
It continues to spread to other areas, she said.
Last year more than 100 scarves, gloves and toboggans were put up within a three-week period. All were taken.
Whitfield, who works in the Wayne County Clerk of Court’s office, keeps a watch on the bundles and replaces the ones that are taken.
“I just enjoy it,” she said. “Just an example, this morning I was putting them out. A young man came by and said, ‘Oh, you are doing the scarves again.’ I said, ‘Yes sir,’ and he started looking at them and picked him one out. He was very grateful. It is just rewarding.
“It is a very good feeling. He was just so happy, and it made me feel good to know that he remembered it from last year because it was something that obviously touched him. If that one person can be touched by it, that’s a plenty.”
All of the items, both new and used, are donated.
“My church, Eureka Christian Church in Grantham, my church family, donates a lot,” Whitfield said. “Then some of my co-workers donate, and neighborhood people who just come and bring me scarves and stuff because they know that I do it. They just come from all over.
“I have not had to buy any. Last year I bought a few gloves because I ran out of gloves. Other than that, I have not had to buy a lot of anything. It’s all donations.”
Whitfield is continuing the tradition of caring and giving that she learned from her parents, Nannie Cotton and the late Deloit Cotton.
“They were very giving people, and Mama still is,” she said. “We we raised up to give. I remember many times Mama and Daddy doing things for different people. That is how we were raised, and don’t know any different.”
“Wrapped in Love” is not Whitfield’s only project.
The back seat of her car is full of rolled-up blankets.
Tucked inside each is an envelope with a Christmas card and a $5 gift card to either Hardee’s or McDonald’s.
It is something that she and her son, Jackson Carter, started about five years. She is continuing by herself since he is now in college in another state.
“As we go down the road, we can hand them out to people,” she said. “I enjoy doing that as well.”
To donate items, call Whitfield at 919-738-2912 and leave a voice mail.