Thunder Bay

Thunder Bay health clinic offers free mitts, hats to help residents stay warm this winter

Officials at the NorWest Community Health Centres (NWCHC) in Thunder Bay, Ont., are hoping to help keep residents warm this winter through a new community project known as the Random Knits of Kindness.

The Random Knits of Kindness offers new, home knit hats and mittens for free

Officials at NorWest Community Health Centres have started a new project in Thunder Bay to help residents keep warm this winter. (Heather Barrett/CBC)

Officials at the NorWest Community Health Centres (NWCHC) in Thunder Bay, Ont., are hoping to help keep residents warm this winter through a new community project known as the Random Knits of Kindness.

The campaign, which started in November, offers new, home-knitted mittens and hats to those in who can't afford them by hanging it along the fence near the clinic on Simpson Street as well as by the pedestrian crossing between Northern and Southern Avenue.

"It's kind of a continuation, an evolution of a program that we ran in the summer which was the Random Hats of Kindness," NWCHC's health promoter Michelle Kolobutin told CBC News, "which was basically us asking the public for new sun hats and we put them up all over the community ... for folks to take."

She said the clinic decided to continue that project through the winter season by asking residents to donate their unused yarn or knitting needles and recruiting volunteers to knit mittens and hats.

"It's nice to receive something that's handmade," Kolobutin explained. "Not that buying something for someone isn't nice but having like a handmade item is always like an exclamation point that we care about you and you are part of our community."

With temperature falling way below zero this time of year, Kolobutin said she's also delivered some hand knitted mittens and hats to several schools in the area.

"We try to have an assortment of kids stuff and also adult sizes, but really anybody that needs them can take them," Kolobutin said. "There's a lot of pride that gets broken down when someone has to come and ask ... so just being able to leave them out there and then take them as per needed is really a nice way of giving people their dignity back."

And although the clinic does not keep track of who takes the items, she said over a hundred hats and mittens have been given out so far and the campaign is expected to last throughout the winter months until after the March break.

Those who are interested in taking part in the project can contact the clinic to help knit or donate their unused yarn or knitting needles.

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