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article image'Coats on a pole' project that started in Canada goes viral

By Karen Graham     Nov 30, 2015 in Lifestyle
"Coats on a pole" is a simple gesture of assistance that began in London, Ontario in 2014. The project eventually hit social media and has now gone viral, spreading from Canada to the U.S. and across the pond to The U.K.
Tara Smith-Atkins and her husband started the "coats on a pole" project in 2014, while living in London, Ontario. They affix coats and jackets of all sizes to telephone poles and the like with a note attached that says: “I am not lost. If you are stuck out in the cold, please take me to keep warm!”
Tara was shocked at the number of homeless people in Toronto when she and her husband made a weekend visit last December to see a concert at Budweiser Gardens. That is when the idea of giving people coats to keep warm started.
“We packed one suitcase with spare jackets that we no longer needed. We passed them out in London to people who looked cold, whether homeless or not,” she said, according to the Star.
The couple now live in Caledonia, Nova Scotia, and the largest city where homelessness is visible is Halifax, so they decided to hand out coats again this year, but on a grander scale. Smith-Atkins had a little help this year that included five friends, along with seven children who jumped in to assist.
On their first trip into Halifax two weeks ago, they left 35 coats. One of the children helping put coats on poles was her daughter, who she said is being taught an "ongoing lesson" on "how fortunate she is, and how important it is for us to help those who were not so blessed."
And the message Smith-Atkins is teaching her daughter transcends religious beliefs. Thinking about it, the message is one that tells us we all need to show some compassion to our neighbors and strangers, especially when they are in need.
Tara recounts the story of when she was straight out of high school, pregnant with her daughter. She and her husband were in a bad car accident and both of then were unable to work. It was that difficult time in her life that inspires her to give back whenever she can, reports ABC News.
"If not for the love and assistance from our family who knows where we'd be," she said. "Most of us are only a few paychecks and a bad decision away from the streets."
The gesture started by the Smith-Atkins family created an abundance of giving. Halifolks Facebook page, an arts, and humanities website in Halifax printed the picture of the coats on a pole seen above. It generated over one million views and prompted people to donate additional jackets, coats and other clothing that were given out to those in need.
"Coat on a pole" goes to London
If that wasn't enough, Landscaper Marilu McKinley, 24, spotted scarves tied around posts and in bags, scattered around Victoria Park in London back in October. The items had similar notes attached. “I thought it was an incredibly beautiful gesture, and it’s nice to see that these generous acts are happening elsewhere,” she said.
Andrea Lisa Robson of Sunderland  UK posted this picture of a coat she left on a pole  encouraging o...
Andrea Lisa Robson of Sunderland, UK posted this picture of a coat she left on a pole, encouraging others to do the same.
And in Sunderland, a city in the north-east of England in the U.K. Andrea Lisa Robson posted a picture on her Facebook page of a coat she put on a pole at the Park Lane interchange. After posting the picture on her Facebook page on Nov. 20, encouraging others to do the same, she discovered on the following Monday she had 4,000 shares and over 6,000 likes.
"Coats on poles" movement catches on in the U.S.
The Inquisitr picks up the story in Huntington, West Virginia. The Coats on a pole movement has been helped by a group called "Team Toni," who gives the explanation the movement was launched in honor of Toni Black, a young women who lost her life to lung cancer in 2012.
Coats have been spotted all over Huntington  West Virginia  thanks to the efforts of Team Toni.
Coats have been spotted all over Huntington, West Virginia, thanks to the efforts of Team Toni.
The Inquisitr says the act of giving a coat or jacket to someone is a gift of love, but we all should remember that any of us could become homeless. And we must not forget that some families are just having a tough time of it. Believe it or not, you don't have to be homeless to need a coat.
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