Community Arts Council secretary Sharon Hoffman hangs a scarf and other warm clothing from a tree downtown during the Winter Lights Festival.

Giving tree shares warmth

Donated hats, mitts and jackets provide warmth to those in need

Don’t be surprised to see a toque or a pair of mitts hanging from a tree through the winter this year. The Community Arts Council is once again spreading warmth with their Giving Tree initiative.

In its third year, volunteers with the Giving Tree program collect gently used winter clothing, bag them in plastic so they can withstand the elements and hang them from a tree in Boitanio Park so that those in need can easily access them.

Launched during the Winter Lights festival, where items were hung from trees in the downtown area, organizer Sharon Hoffman says 19 items have already been claimed.

So far, she says, they’ve received more than 150 items to pass along ­— 130 of which came from the Earth Friendly Holiday Event. Another 20 were added after the Winter Lights Festival.

It’s just about “sharing warmth,” says Hoffman.

“There are homeless people out there and [it’s] just giving them something warm.”

The Arts Council continuously puts out items on the tree through the winter.

“We put them out as we get them, and if it’s super cold, we’ll put a few more things out,” says Hoffman. She says she regularly passes by the tree to make sure there are items for people to grab.

“People are very appreciative,” she says, adding items are often grabbed as soon as she can put them on the tree.

Every now and then she says she will notice someone wearing a hat she knitted or a piece of clothing she donated and will be taken aback.

She also passes along thanks to an “anonymous elf” who knitted a “whole pile of toques” and donated them to the initiative.

Cariboo Quality Cleaners is also helping Hoffman clean some of the donations that are in particular need of a wash.

If Boitanio Park is out of the way, Hoffman notes that St. Peter’s Church also has bagged mitts and toques on their fence, and that others have left warm items on trees downtown.

The Community Arts Council is still taking donations for the giving tree; people can drop winter items off just inside the Delainey’s mall on Oliver Street or at the Central Cariboo Arts Centre.

Specifically, the group is hoping to collect a few more gloves and mittens.

“We didn’t get very many mitts and gloves this year,” she says. “Usually we are swimming with them.

Thanks to the giving tree, hearts and fingers are sure to stay nice and toasty this year.

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Submitted photos Jorunn LindZen, a member of the Community Arts Council, helps leave a message and a warm hat on a tree downtown for people to grab when they need some warmth as part of the Arts Council’s Giving Tree Initiative.

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