AMHERST, N.S. – No one likes having cold hands, or a cold head for that matter.
It’s something Colleen Dowe noticed while driving into Amherst one day last week.
“I noticed several people, adults and children, walking with no gloves or mittens on extremely cold days,” said Dowe, a member of Empowering Beyond Barriers. “You could see then trying to pull their hands into their sleeves or shifting what they were carrying to another hand to give equal pocket time.”
From that, the community organization went to work setting up a program in which bags of gloves or mittens and toques are being left in bags on utility poles downtown along Victoria Street.
While the program only began on Jan. 17, it has already seen lots of use.
“I think we’ve seen more than a dozen bags picked up,” Dowe said. “People are noticing them and they’re using them.”
Empowering Beyond Barriers board member Jennifer Furlong said anyone can find themselves without gloves, it’s not just children that can’t hold on to them.
Dowe said when she put out a call to Empowering Beyond Barriers everyone thought it was a great idea and Alison Lair at the Cumberland YMCA was the first to respond.
“There was a box set up at the Y before lunch that day and last time I looked it was nicely stocked,” she said.
Dowe said something was needed to put the items in to keep them dry outside and board member Charlotte Ferguson looked after that by putting together some labelled bags.
“The mittens and hats on Victoria Street have been positioned on the sidewalk because there is a lot of foot traffic and we felt it would be easy for people who find themselves without to take what they need,” Dowe said. “They are also there before and after the Y opens and closes.”
Dowe stressed the initiative isn’t intended to be for people living in poverty. Instead, she said, it is for anyone who finds them self in need of something warm.
“I lost a glove this week leaving one appointment and heading to another,” she said. “It’s something that happens to adults as well as children and to people from all walks of life.”
Dowe said she scoured the thrift shops and bought the very few pairs of mittens / gloves that were available. She said warm mittens and gloves can be expensive and not easy to find but that is primarily what EBB is after.
“Scarves are plentiful so maybe don’t get lost as frequently,” she said. “Wearing hats and insulated mittens or gloves not only make being outside more bearable they can protect from frostbite.”
People willing to make donations can drop gloves, mittens and hats off at the YMCA.