Thunder Bay

'Random hats of Kindness' provides free hats to people in Thunder Bay, Ont.

A Thunder Bay health organization launched the Random Hats of Kindness campaign as a way to remind people to seek shade and cover up in the summer, while providing hats to those who may not be able to get one otherwise.

NorWest Community Health Centres started the initiative to get people to cover up from the sun

Michelle Kolobutin, the health promoter at NorWest Health Centre in Thunder Bay, started the Random Hats of Kindness campaign which offers free hats placed around the city for anyone who needs it. (Kirthana Sasitharan/CBC )

A health organization in Thunder Bay is placing free hats up for grabs around the community to encourage people to take a hat and cover up from the sun.

The NorWest Community Health Centre in Thunder Bay is putting hats around the community on benches and fence posts ahead of a week of sun and heat. The campaign, called 'Random Hats of Kindness,' hopes to provide hats to those who might not have a way of getting one otherwise.

Michelle Kolobutin is a health promoter at NorWest's main office in Thunder Bay. She says its important for people to wear hats in the summer, especially as the temperatures rise.

"We are seeing a number of folks around our neighbourhood, and throughout Thunder Bay for that matter, who are without hats," said Kolobutin "and were trying to encourage folks to put a hat on, seek shade, keep hydrated."

The hats are placed around the city on fence posts, by the pools, and at community playgrounds. (Kirthana Sasitharan/CBC)

Kolobutin says the initative's name is a play on the words from 'random acts of kindness' where people do kind things for strangers or the people around them without expectation. She says the hats that we given out were donated by  various organizations including the Thunder Bay Bordercats and the Lakehead Regional Conservation Authority.

The hats are being placed in different areas for people to take including parks, playgrounds, and local pools. Each hat comes with the tag that says 'I am not lost! If you need me, please take me. Seek shade, drink water and cover up this summer. Have a safe and healthy summer.' There are hats for children and adults and come in different styles.

Hat campaign fills a void

She says the initiative also fills a void in an area that lacks shopping options for people to go out and get a hat themselves.

"NorWest and the community around here is kind of a desert in terms of shopping," Kolobutin said. "It's kind of a hike to get to an area where you can actually purchase hats and they are sometimes a little bit of an investment if you have a family with a number of children."

Kolobutin says with the rising heat, the reminder on the tag that informs people to seek shade and put a hat on will help people to take precautions, avoiding heat related incidents like too much sun exposure.

"I think for children and seniors especially, its hard for those individuals to regulate their heat and to know when they're starting to feel overheated, when they've had too much sun exposure and when to cool off and how to do that properly," said Kolobutin.

She says getting out of the sun if possible and wearing a hat on and off throughout the day can make a difference to regulate a person's heat. She says it's also important for people to help take care of one another by suggesting to go to a library or a cooling centre to get out of intense heat.

Kolobutin says she knows people have been taking the hats because she's seen an increase in the number of Bordercats hats being worn around the neighbourhood. These hats pictured are placed around the fence of the NorWest's Simpson Street site. (Kirthana Sasitharan/CBC)

Increase in hat wearers around the community 

Kolobutin says the initiative has so far garnered positive reaction with people actually taking the hats and using it.

"We started to see the plastic [tags] on [the hats] come back, meaning that folks are getting the hats and bringing the little reminders saying 'I got the hat and thank you,'" said Kolobutin. She says she's seen an increase in the number of border cats baseball hats being worn around the neighbourhood, so she knows that people are getting them.

The organization hopes to continue this project throughout the summer and do a similar initiative in November, December, and January with winter mits, hats, and scarves.  

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