Photo By: Lynda Hinton from Unsplash

This past weekend, the St. Catharines Museum and Welland Canals Centre launched its annual month-long Mitten Tree campaign. The campaign supports two local charities that provide residents with a host of winter programs each year.

The campaign’s purpose is to increase community outreach and promote awareness for those in need this winter season by encouraging residents to donate as many pieces of new and gently-used winter apparel as possible. Donated items will be provided to Community Care of St. Catharines and Thorold, and Start Me Up Niagara’s Out of the Cold program, which provides meals and essential winter items to community members who are currently experiencing homelessness or poverty. 

This year, the campaign launched on Dec. 4 and will continue until Jan. 8, 2022, with donations being accepted at the museum during its regular operational hours. As is tradition, residents are asked to decorate the museum’s tree with their winter apparel donations. These donations can also be left at the front desk, though decorating the tree is recommended as a contact-free way to give. 

Community Care of St. Catharines and Thorold assists the less fortunate in the community by providing programs ranging from food and housing security to emergency assistance and support. Aside from the Mitten Tree initiative, the charity accepts food, clothes, and monetary donations. While the organization is one of the two primary receivers of donations from the campaign, it also hosts its own holiday food drive to collect non-perishable food products for individuals in need. 

Start Me Up Niagara provides assistance to persons who are struggling with poverty, homelessness, unemployment, impairments, addictions, and mental health difficulties. All year they serve the region with programs ranging from community dinners and health care drives to housing assistance and job development. Particularly for the winter season, Start Me Up Niagara operates overnight emergency shelters at Westminster United Church in St. Catharines and St. Andrews United Church in Niagara Falls. The shelters are open from 7:30 p.m. – 7:30 a.m. and will operate until Apr. 15, 2022. The charity’s second primary winter program, Out of the Cold, rotates between seven different churches on a take-out-only basis. This initiative has a clearly defined schedule and will run until Mar. 31, 2022.

Interested residents can find out more information about the St. Catharines Museum and Welland Canals Centre, as well as information about the Mitten Tree Campaign by visiting their website. The St. Catharines Museum and Welland Canals Centre is open from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. every day of the week.