The gift of warmth: Pop-up charities offering jackets for those in need
A new campaign in the Halifax area is looking to help keep people warm during the cold winter months.
Sobeys is running a coat drive at their store on Tacoma Drive in Dartmouth throughout December.
Steve Bell recently came to the neighborhood grocery store, but not for groceries. He stopped by to drop off coats for those in need.
"I think it's wonderful. We're here all the time,” says Bell. “I wouldn't know about it otherwise. I can just come here and go home."
The concept is simple; you can drop off or pick up coats from this rack 24 hours a day, with no questions asked.
Bell says it’s a fantastic idea. "You always have coats at home. We're empty-nesters. We were cleaning out some stuff so we might think about bringing it over."
Kathleen Waldon is the community room co-ordinator. She says the jackets don’t stay on the racks very long and it makes many feel great.
"(The jackets) come in and they go so fast it makes our head spin and our hearts swell,” says Waldon. “Yesterday when I left there were two, this morning I came in there was four, and now there is a full rack. And I guarantee you in a few hours there won't be many left, but they will all be back again."
Smiling, Waldon says she and a coworker got the idea from a grocery store in Minnesota that had a similar program. She says she is proud of her coworkers and community for helping the rack stay stocked.
“We know that people are needy, people are homeless and people are cold, and we all need to take care of each other. It's the Christmas spirit really,” she says.
Waldon says that the convenience of the racks also may help those who avoid accepting charity.
"Some people are sort of embarrassed and the fact they dwell in a place that is charitable might make them self-conscious. But here they can just pick one up as if they were just shopping, I think it's a great step," says Waldon.
Across the harbour outside of a downtown Halifax barbershop, there is also a cabinet filled with toiletries. People are encouraged to take what they need and leave whatever they can.
This idea was invented by Tara Atkins and her family. But it's not her first charitable act.
"We just wanted to put out there that there's always help to be found, I don't want anybody to ever feel hopeless," says Atkins.
Every year, the family asks people in their community of Caledonia, N.S. to donate old coats, scarves, hats and mittens and invites local children to help her tie them to lamp posts for those in need.
This year, Sailor Bup's agreed to manage and stock the cupboard with donations that people can drop off at their shop.
"Take what you need, leave what you can. It's a little bit of pay it forward, I think. Great thing to see around the holidays," says Colin Budden, a customer of Sailor Bup’s.
The Tacoma Drive Sobeys plans to keep their coat drive going into the new year and possibly continuing the giving all year round.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Allan April.