A group of Canadian kids are already spreading a bit of Christmas spirit in Halifax, Nova Scotia, by wrapping warm clothing around lamp poles for the city’s homeless to pick up and use. The unusual sight of warmly dressed poles caught recently the attention of locals, who stopped to click pictures to share on social media.
Every year, Tara Atkins-Smith collects warm clothing from her community, in order to give to the less fortunate. This year, she took to Facebook to call for donations and the response was overwhelming – their front porch was overflowing with bags of clothes. Since the family was traveling to Halifax on November 15 with their daughter Jayda and seven of her friends to celebrate her 8th birthday, Tara decided it was the perfect time to teach the children valuable life lesson.
The kids spent time handing out coats to any homeless they encountered on the streets and tied the rest around lamp posts for others to pick up. Each of the clothing items had a tag attached that read: “I am not lost. If you are stuck out in the cold, please take me to keep warm.” According to Tara, the experience helped the children better understand the plight of homeless people having to brave the harsh winter on the streets. “When we got back in the car after an hour on the street, they were all freezing and crying for the heater to be on and complaining because they were cold. And they were bundled up,” she said.
There is no way to be sure that the coats left hanging on street posts were actually picked up by the homeless, but Tara says she\s not too worried about that. “I’m not saying it has to be homeless people, you know, someone who may work may need that jacket and not be able to afford it,” she said. “We just want to put out there that there’s always help to be found. I don’t want anybody to ever feel hopeless.”
By next morning, all the jackets, mittens, and scarves on the posts were gone. Photographs of the inspiring project have been shared about 8,000 times on Facebook, and got over 10,000 likes. Tara, who did something similar in Toronto in December last year, says she’s already planning next year’s coat drive. She’s hoping to spread the word well ahead of time, so more people can contribute. And she also wants to add $5 fast food gift cards so the recipients can also enjoy a hot meal.
“We’ve had help from others when we were in need, and we knew how great it made us feel,” said Zachary Atkins, Tara’s husband.
Photos: Tara Atkins-Smith