KINGSTON – A Kingston woman is lending a helping hand so others can keep warm this winter.
Jessica Garnett-Saunders lives in Ravenwood near Kingston and has tied scarves, jackets, hats and mittens to trees and other public fixtures in Kingston for anyone in need to take, and use, to fight off the cold.
Each garment left by Garnett-Saunders has a tag pinned to it which reads, ‘I am not lost! If you are stuck out in the cold or know someone who is, take this to keep warm!’ with a small red heart at the sentence’s end, and is meant as a free gift to help anyone in need.
“A little help here and there can go a long way in helping somebody,” she says.
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Garnett-Saunders felt inspired after seeing similar initiatives happening in urban areas, where poverty “is more in your face” than in rural Nova Scotia. But Garnett-Saunders says poverty, while perhaps less visible, is something she still sees in the Kingston-Greenwood area.
She recalls working at a restaurant and seeing families order meals to share with their children because they could not afford a dish to themselves. She and other wait staff would often chip in to help as they could and buy the family a dish or two more.
“We really do have a homelessness problem here, too. There are people struggling to heat their homes, and to keep their children warm,” she says.
And so she was inspired to begin collecting warm garments to give away for free. This is her first year embarking on this initiative, but Garnett-Saunders says she already plans to continue it next year with more organization, donations and volunteers.
And it’ll always be around Christmas that the garments are put out for taking, since Garnett-Saunders says it’s this time of year that finances can be more stressful for anyone looking to give gifts to their loved ones.
“It’s really that simple – we wanted to bring some happiness and joy to otherwise stressful times, to families in need,” she says.
“If it’s on a tree, if it says take me, then take me!”