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Give A Day Impact: Spreading hope with scarves

Hope Scarves exists to share scarves, stories, and hope with people facing cancer.

LOUISVILLE (WHAS11) -- Since it started in 2011, the Mayor's Give A Day Week has put plenty of local nonprofits more on the map. Hope Scarves is no exception. It’s based in Louisville, but it's now got connections all over the world.

Hope Scarves exists to share scarves, stories, and hope with people facing cancer. It's an easy cause to get behind, but the organization said its success comes from the compassion of others.

"There's a lot of scarves coming in and scarves going out on a daily basis here,” Hope Scarves Founder Lara MacGregor said.

Hope Scarves is more than a nice name. It's a place with a powerful purpose.

"Every Hope Scarf comes with a story, and that story really is the heart of our program,” MacGregor said.

MacGregor’s story started it all.

"Hope Scarves started from my own personal experience facing cancer when I was newly diagnosed at age 30 and seven months pregnant with our second son. A friend of a friend sent me a box of scarves, and it meant so much to receive those scarves and know that someone else had faced cancer and helped me believe I could do it, too,” MacGregor said. "When I finished my treatment, I asked if I could send them back to her and she said just find somebody else who can use them.”

MacGregor listened.

"I realized not only how much those scarves meant to me in receiving them when I was newly diagnosed, but also in passing them on and sharing my strength and hope with someone else newly diagnosed,” MacGregor said. "We have sent over 10,000 scarves to people in every state and 24 countries. Thousands and thousands go around the world, but they are all coming in and out and being loved on by the volunteers here in Louisville. This is where they start."

About 100 go out every week.

RELATED: Give A Day Impact: Pedal Power

"The scarf is often what people see and recognize for the vibrant colors, but the scarf is really just the vehicle for the words of encouragement and the strength and love that we're able to pass between individuals,” MacGregor said.

Sort, Pick, Pack, Ship - it's the journey every scarf takes before it heads to its new home. Each one is matched by patient preference, age, diagnosis, and stage.

"If we have somebody who is 55 with lung cancer and they're interested in a teal scarf, we'll look to our teal scarf collection and see if we have a lung cancer story and the age and the stage of the cancer they're facing. So, we really want the fit of the story to be a good fit for what they're experiencing,” MacGregor said. "We hope each time a cancer patient wears that scarf on their head or around their neck or just holds it in their hands that they feel the love and support of all of us at Hope Scarves and all of the people who have participated in our program.  We couldn't do what we do here without the help of volunteers, and I believe quite strongly that many hands make light work."

Hope Scarves got more than a few volunteers thanks to last year's Week of Service.

RELATED: Mayor Fischer's Give A Day week of service: How you can help

"On this one day, we set a goal of collecting 100 survivor stories. By being part of Give A Day, it helped raise awareness about our event and bring some enthusiasm and excitement to our efforts,” MacGregor said. "We did a phone bank where people could call in and talk with a volunteer and share their story. We also had people online. We had people coming into our studio and writing their stories in person. Certainly, the ripple effect of volunteerism lasts well beyond the hours spent actually hands-on volunteering. The impact of strengthening our mission and the work of so many other amazing organizations around our community definitely just lights a spark through the Mayor's Give A Day and hopefully just continues to inspire people to get involved and be connected with each other in our community. It reiterates the idea of us being a compassionate city and sharing that love and compassion around the world.”

RELATED: Give A Day Impact: Giving a priceless gift

Scarfs get distributed in three ways: a personal request from a patient, a gift scarf where you can send a scarf to a patient, or the partnership program with two dozen hospitals around the U.S. There are volunteer hours every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 10 a.m. to noon. There's also a monthly Sips and Scarves, which is an evening event for groups of volunteers.

Click here to volunteer, donate, and learn more about Hope Scarves.

Individuals or groups wanting to find a project should visit www.mygiveaday.com, where projects and needs submitted by local non-profit agencies and other groups are listed. 

Those impacted by the Mayor's week of service:

The Playground

Give A Day Impact: Giving a Priceless Gift

Pedal Power

Spreading hope with scarves

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