As people walked down the streets of downtown Halifax this past weekend, they spotted something very unusual: lamp posts in the area sporting winter coats.
No, they weren’t put there to keep the lamp posts warm. It turns out some very special residents of the city put up the coats with this sweet message pinned to them: “I am not lost! If you are stuck out in the cold, please take me to keep warm!”
This was the work of Tara Smith-Atkins, 27, who runs a daycare out of her home in the small town of Caledonia, N.S. Smith-Atkins and her family have always tried to participate in as many outreach programs as possible–especially during the holidays–and this year they wanted to do something a little special for the people in Halifax.
“Last year my husband and I did something similar in Toronto; this year we wanted to support someone a little closer to home,” she said, speaking to The Loop on Facebook.
It all started a few weeks ago when Tara opened up her front porch and asked people in her community to drop off winter clothing for a coat drive.
“My community is simply amazing. I made a social media post and also shot the word off through mouth in our hometown…It spread like wildfire,” she said. “The community–like many others would be–were more than happy to jump in and help. In only a day or two the bags of clothing were rolling in.”
And it gets even better. To kick off her daughter’s eight birthday celebrations on Nov. 15, Smith-Atkins, her family and her daughter’s friends made their way to Halifax’s chilly downtown core and wrapped the coats, scarves and gloves around lamp posts and benches.
“We spent only an hour in the cold, and were entirely dressed for the elements. Those who we aimed to help yesterday were not,” Smith-Atkins said. “My daughter spends many days learning about and helping people who need it. It made her feel good, as it always does.”
After completing this selfless deed, the happy bunch went on their merry way, unaware of the fact that their little coat initiative would go viral. Apparently soon after the coats went up, someone from the popular east coast Facebook page “Halifolks” snapped the photo of them and put it up online.
As the lovely post makes its way around Canada–with over 10,000 likes, 9,000 shares and close to 300 comments at the time of writing–some are quick to mention the fact that not only do these coats offer immediate relief from the cold for those who need it, they’re also a visual reminder about how Canadians can make a difference in such a small way.
“I feel that this should draw more than just kudos. These jackets are a visible reminder of the fact that there are many in our city who need our support and love. Each and every one of us should feel inspired to do something to help too!” said one Facebook commenter. “Whether it is taking the time to greet and maybe get to know a panhandler, to providing a meal to someone in need, to making a donation to a food bank or another charitable organization. We all need to pitch in to help those who have less–and there is always someone with needs greater than your own! Thanks for inspiration Tara & Co!”
As for Tara? Well, she’s just happy to have inspired people to do more in the community.
“We never expected such a small gesture from us to gain such attention,” she said. “But if it goes to help more people, we’re more than OK with that.”