The Christmas spirit came early to Halifax on Sunday after a woman from Caledonia, N.S. mobilized a group of children from her community to dress up lamp poles with winter clothing to provide warmth to the homeless.
Every year, Tara Smith-Atkins reaches out to her community asking for donations of coats.
Overwhelming response from community
She took the plea to Facebook this year calling for people to bring them coats and winter items in good shape.
Smith-Atkins says the family left their porch open over the past few weeks and the community responded.
"Before long, the bags just started flowing in," she said.
The couple decided Nov. 15 would be the day to deliver the coats to the streets of Halifax.
They were coming to the city for their daughter's eighth birthday party with seven of her friends and saw an opportunity to teach the children a valuable lesson.
"They definitely learned the importance of it," Smith-Atkins said.
"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."
The children wrapped lamp poles with coats bundled with either scarves or mittens. Each item had a tag that read "I am not lost! If you are stuck out in the cold, please take me to keep warm!"
Photos of the fashionable poles soon started circulating on social media, with people wondering who was responsible for the gesture. A posting on the Facebook page of Halifolks about the endeavour has generated almost 10,000 likes and 8,000 shares.
We live in a caring community! Great to see coats downtown for whoever might need one in this cold weather. pic.twitter.com/kRAvIlWdDV— @FEEDNOVASCOTIA
Smith-Atkins said she and her husband did something similar last December when they went to Toronto and the experience was an eye-opener.
"It was a little bit overwhelming and definitely unsettling the amount of poverty and homelessness there," she said.
Smith-Atkins is already planning a coat drive for next year. She wants to get the word out ahead of time so people who need coats can track them down.
She also wants to add $5 fast food gift cards with each coat so the recipient can get a hot meal.
I LOVE THIS SO MUCH! A bunch of awesome people in Halifax are tying jackets, scarves, and hats to light poles,... https://t.co/dobxuKDyAS— @BX93