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Old South Knitters Wrap Marathon Runners In ‘Love And Courage’

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BOSTON (CBS) – Old South Church on Boylston Street is often called “The Finish Line” church. The church does many runner-related events every year around the Boston Marathon.

A few weeks ago, the church hatched an idea. It was early February when Diane Gaucher and a friend pitched the idea for The Marathon Scarf Project to the Old South Knitters Club at her church just 100 feet from the marathon finish line. “The love that’s been put into these is palpable,” Gaucher said.

“And all of a sudden one of them said, ‘I want to wrap the runners in scarves knitted with love and courage,’” Senior Minister Nancy Taylor explained.

The scarves are five feet long and six inches wide knitted, crocheted, and woven in marathon blue and yellow. But with race day closing in, they turned to the church grapevine for a little help.

Old South was hoping to get a few hundred scarves, but more than 6,000 have rolled in and they’re still arriving. A trickle turned into several boxes per day, more than the mailman could tote. They’ve come from 46 states not to mention Thailand, Belgium, and Germany.

“They now deliver here by truck,” Taylor said.

The scarf mission fits perfectly for Old South which is ringing its bell for the blast anniversary service on Boylston Street and hosting its traditional blessing of the runners on marathon eve, Easter Sunday.

“We will reclaim the marathon for good,” Taylor said. “This is the world’s oldest international competition. It’s an extraordinary event. We’re going to make it peaceful again.”

Taylor watched the carnage from the bell tower a year ago and now hopes her church’s project will help a city rise above the bombers.

View of Boston Marathon finish line from bell tower of Old South Church. (WBZ-TV)

View of Boston Marathon finish line from bell tower of Old South Church. (WBZ-TV)

“They kind of tried to separate us and send us scattering,” Taylor said. “This is a project that brings people together.”

In the meantime, the scarves continue to arrive. Some are delivered by the knitters themselves, while others are shipped with photos of the makers, many with a personal note attached.

“It’s a personal race for all of us even though we are not runners,” Gaucher says. “We just wanted to express how we feel.”

Runners will be “scarfed” at several church events and simply on the street out front in the days leading up to the marathon.

The scarves are symbolic of course; runners aren’t likely to wear them on marathon day. But those who get one will know someone made it, with the hope it would inspire and protect them.

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