Nova Scotia

'Community tree' creator warms North Sydney neighbours' hearts, bodies

Nicole MacPherson has created what she calls a "community tree" outside her North Sydney, N.S. home to provide clothes for people in need this winter.

Nicole MacPherson hangs winter clothes on a Christmas tree outside her home for people in need

Nicole MacPherson got the idea for the "community tree" after seeing an online piece on a similar idea done in the United States. (Gary Mansfield/CBC)

A North Sydney, N.S., woman has created what she calls a "community tree" outside her home to provide clothes for people in need this winter.

Nicole MacPherson said she tried the idea last year and it was such a success, she decided to do it again.

Outside her Stanley Street door, MacPherson has placed a lit Christmas tree hung with clear bags filled with hats, scarves and other items.

Anyone who needs a piece of clothing is welcome to take one.

MacPherson said the tree makes her appreciate her neighbours, because a lot of the items are donated.

"Pride, definitely, in the community," she said. "[It makes me feel] hope and just happiness, because we've all been at some point in our life when we struggle and to be able to help somebody out when they're in that situation makes a world of difference to me."

MacPherson's community tree provided 21 coats last year and dozens of other items. She put out two pairs of boots this year and they were gone on the first day. (Gary Mansfield/CBC)

The community tree provided 21 coats last year and dozens of other items, MacPherson said.

She put out two pairs of boots this year and they were gone on the first day, she said.

MacPherson, a 30-year-old nursing home worker, got the idea after seeing an online piece on a similar idea done in the United States.

"[It was the] same idea, just coats on a coat rack, so I thought we'd just put a little twist on it, add a little more than coats and get people what they need," she said.

MacPherson said people have told her the community tree warms their hearts.

"I think people want to be able to help and just don't always necessarily know how and where to do it, so it kind of gives them the opportunity."

Jennifer Power, a friend who lives nearby, said she's proud of MacPherson.

Jennifer Power, who lives nearby, says she's proud of MacPherson for making items of clothing available for people who might not be able to afford them. (Gary Mansfield/CBC)

"It's amazing what she does and she's always so kind-hearted," said Power.

"People need stuff and sometimes they can't afford to get it, and it's just great what [Nicole] is doing here."

Amber Campbell also lives in the neighbourhood. She was only working part-time last year and needed a winter coat.

Campbell said she was grateful she could take advantage of MacPherson's community tree.

Amber Campbell lives near Nicole MacPherson's home and has taken advantage of the community tree. This year, she's giving back by making donations to the tree. (Gary Mansfield/CBC)

"It's nice to see that she's able to help out people that are less fortunate," Campbell said.

She has now become a donor and hopes to help others.

MacPherson said would like to keep the tree up until February, at least, and she's happy to take donations.

"We always take gently used items," she said. "You can just leave them on the step if I'm not home.

"I take everything in and label it and put it in see-through bags and put it out."

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About the Author

Tom Ayers

Reporter/Editor

Tom Ayers has been a reporter and editor for more than 30 years. He has spent the last 15 years covering Cape Breton and Nova Scotia stories. You can reach him at tom.ayers@cbc.ca.

With files from Gary Mansfield

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