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North Sydney woman creates community tree filled with warm clothing

For the second year-in-a-row, Nicole MacPherson has placed a Christmas tree in front of her North Sydney home with bags of warm clothing for people in need.
For the second year-in-a-row, Nicole MacPherson has placed a Christmas tree in front of her North Sydney home with bags of warm clothing for people in need. - Contributed
NORTH SYDNEY, N.S. —

A North Sydney woman has set up a Christmas tree in her yard that is delivering more than the festive spirit.

In place of tinsel and garland are plastic bags stuffed with warm clothing including jackets, sweaters, hats and mittens.

All items are available at no charge to anyone who might need them.

Simply take a bag off the tree with no questions asked, says Nicole MacPherson, who started the tradition at her 1 Stanley Street home last year.

Nicole MacPherson
Nicole MacPherson

MacPherson, 30, said the idea for the community tree came from a social media post in the United States where someone filled a coat rack with donated jackets.

“I just thought it was a wonderful idea and anything to help our community is worth doing,” said MacPherson, who began the project last year.

“We ended up going through 21 coats and countless hats and mittens and sweaters last year and I’m thinking it’s going to be a good turnout this year.”

MacPherson said many of the items for the tree are gently used, while some are brand new. Most of the clothing has come by way of donation.

MacPherson who put the tree outside of her house earlier this week said she’s had to restock it already. The bags are labelled with the size of the clothing.

“A lot of people think it’s just for the homeless, which is not the case,” she said.

“I know there’s lot of people who might have a roof over their head, but don’t have that extra cash to get the warm items for themselves, they’re struggling to get it for their kids.”

A continuing care assistant by profession, MacPherson said that everyone goes through a period of time where they are down on their luck.

She said fortunately her neighbours around are supportive of the idea.

“We all struggle and that’s the sense of community is to pull together when it’s needed,” she said.

“I think it’s important to help one another out. I think it’s what we’re here for.”

MacPherson started putting the tree out only after snowfall last year.

She expects the community tree will remain in place until February.

North Sydney Community Food Bank co-ordinator, Lawrence Shebib, said their Station Street centre also runs a program that brings winter coats to people in need at this time of year.

“They’re provided by Kiwanis in partnership with the Knights of Columbus, and the program, it’s not a big program, but this year I had 42 new jackets and 12 went to Sydney Mines,” Shebib said.

“We do provide mitts and scarves that we get them from the Every Woman’s Centre in Sydney through their adopt-a-family program.”

Shebib said various churches in North Sydney also provided clothing items given out along with food items as part of their Combined Christmas Dinner program.

Both the food bank in North Sydney and Sydney Mines are currently in the process gearing up for the holiday season.

For information on how to donate to your local food bank or to register for programming call the North Sydney Community Food Bank at 902-794-1104 or the Sydney Mines Area Food Bank at 902-544-1247.

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