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Huts for the homeless: New initiative aimed at providing shelter in Sydney

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From his pizza shop location in the heart of Sydney's downtown, Justin Ayre has seen what it's like for people in the city who are experiencing homelessness.

“Oh, it's everywhere on Charlotte Street. It's a shame, you know”, he said.

During some of the coldest winter weather in recent weeks, Ayre has been in talks with advocates for the homeless about what can be done to help.

They have come up with an initiative called Huts for the Homeless. The focus is mainly on providing and improving shelter for people in the Sydney area.

"They're hanging out in alleys, sleeping at banks and now, I guess the banks are locking up their doors. They have nowhere to go, right,” Ayre said.

"There have been people from the CBRM who actually have been sleeping in the woods. Some have tents, some don't,” said Lisa Lannon, a longtime advocate for the homeless.

Lannon has been involved in helping the homeless ever since her dad bought a restaurant meal for a woman who had nothing to eat, back when she was five years old.

Now, she has teamed up with the group at the pizza shop. They have received their first sleeping bag, and some tents with several bags of clothes.

"We're looking for flashlights and batteries,” Lannon said. “We're looking for toiletries, any kind of light that wouldn't be something that would catch fire. Nothing kerosene. Some socks and some underwear for male and female."

Ayre said all four Alexandra's Pizza locations in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality will be drop-off spots for clothing and camping gear.

They're giving the items to people by partnering with the local homeless shelter, and Loaves and Fishes community kitchen.

"They can drop in at any time,” Ayre said. “We have a lot of space upstairs. We can hold on to the stuff, until we can get it out to the people who need it."

The big push will take place during a fundraising event at the pizza shop next weekend. Until then, organizers are urging people to drop by with whatever they can give.

"Please come. Take a truck. Fill the back of your truck. They need it,” Lannon said. “Just because you don't see them every day doesn't mean they're not here."

The afternoon fundraiser at the Alexandra’s location in Sydney will take place on Saturday, March 25 from 12 p.m until 6 p.m.

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