Jen Juneau
November 20, 2015 8:38 am

How did you spend your eighth birthday? Mine was at Chuck E. Cheese’s. I remember specifically, because it was the only year my brother and I shared a birthday party. It was the best day. Most kids spend their birthdays in a similar fashion, and look back on it fondly. But every once in a while, some kids take the opportunity of turning a year older to instead reach out to their community and ask, “What can I do for other people today?”

In Halifax, Nova Scotia, the eight-year-old daughter of Tara Smith-Atkins proved she was one of those kids. On Nov. 15 – her eighth birthday, this past Sunday – she and seven of her friends took to the streets of Halifax, N.S. and tied coats, scarves, and mittens around lampposts in hopes that the homeless would find them and pick them up to protect them from the frigid Canadian weather. The girls left note tags on the coats, too, that read, “I am not lost! If you are stuck out in the cold, please take me to keep warm!”

And as great parents do, Smith-Atkins had a lesson up her sleeve. “When we got back in the car after an hour on the street, they were all freezing and crying for the heater to be on and complaining because they were cold. And they were bundled up,” she told CBC News Nova Scotia. “They definitely learned the importance of it.”

Smith-Atkins also told the news channel that her own community of Caledonia, N.S. was responsible for the coat donations. She posted on Facebook to ask for help, and the donations started coming in; she left her porch open, and people dropped off bags and bags of coats. Every year, she reaches out and asks for winter-coat donations to help the needy, and this was the year she and her husband decided to leave them around Halifax for people to take.

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Last year, Smith-Atkins and her husband visited Toronto, which she said was, “a little bit overwhelming and definitely unsettling the amount of poverty and homelessness there.” The family plans to continue the tradition of coat donations, too – they’re already reaching out on social media for next year, hoping to add $5 gift cards to future donations to help recipients get a hot meal on top of warm winter wear.

It’s so beautiful to read stories like this that remind us how wonderful our communities can be, especially around this time of year. Thank you to Tara Smith-Atkins and her family! May they inspire all of us to be even a little bit better this holiday season and always.

(Images via Twitter and Facebook)

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