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This is the time of the year when most people reach out to help those in need. For some, it means donating to a local food bank. For others in involves participating in clothing and toy drives. This year, two remarkable people have taken the season of giving to a new level with their simple but ingenious ideas.
Lamppost Coat Drive in Canada
On November 14th, the residents of Halifax, Nova Scotia came across a strange sight — warm coats and scarves strung around the city's lampposts. A closer examination revealed a tag on each one. It read: "I am not lost. If you are stuck out in the cold, please take me to keep warm." The smart idea was the brainchild of 27-year-old Tara Smith-Atkins.
Though the Nova Scotia resident and her husband have been collecting coats and jackets for the less fortunate for some time, this year Atkins put the donation request on Facebook. Thanks to the overwhelming response, they ended up with more donations than were needed for the small riverside community of Caledonia, where the family resides.
However, Atkins knew that the donations could be put to good use in the city of Halifax. Since she already had an excursion planned to celebrate her daughter Jayda's eighth birthday, Atkins decide to take along the coats. After handing out a few, the group that included Jayda's seven closest friends came up with an innovative donation idea. They tied the colorful jackets around the city's lampposts. Many had hats and mittens stuffed inside the pockets. This made it easy for passersby to grab one as they walked by the lampposts.
The family hoped their gifts would be welcomed by those in need. They were not disappointed. By the following day, all the warm clothing was gone. The Atkins family not only plans to repeat this heartwarming deed next year but also hopes to add fast food gift cards so that recipients can warm their bodies and bellies!
Portable Cardboard Beds in England
Across the Atlantic, in Wolverhampton, England a former teacher is busy building cardboard beds for the homeless. Elliot Lord was looking for a way to help the less fortunate. After some research, he discovered that of the many hardships faced by the homeless, the biggest is sleeping upon the cold hard ground. It is not just uncomfortable, but also results in numerous health issues.
While providing them with beds was a noble idea, the engineer had limited resources to pay for the materials. Besides, his community organization, “Our Own Future” is founded to solve social problems with sustainable solutions.
So the innovative man designed a “card bed.” Made entirely from recycled cardboard, it can be assembled into a sturdy and stable resting place within minutes by simply interlocking the precut pieces. More importantly, they come apart as quickly and are completely flat making it easy to lug around. Best of all, the material is free which means card beds can be available to anyone that needs them.
Though the project is currently local to the cities of Wolverhampton and Birmingham, Lord says he has been approached by many relief organizations that hope to use the ingenious design in refugee camps and disaster-stricken areas. To make it easy for them and anyone else that feels inclined to help those in need, Lord has set up cardbeds.org, a website that provides detailed instructions on how to construct the beds.
These, of course, are a mere sampling of how people are trying to help the less fortunate during this season of giving. But the ideas demonstrate that one does not need a lot of resources to make an impact — Just a little ingenuity and a real desire to make a difference, can go a long way!
Resources: guardian.co.uk, bbc.co.uk,cbc.ca, odditycentral.com