Barrie Police Mitten Trees pop-up around town

Helping keep the city warm

Barrie Police officer Janet Schefter remembers all too well what it’s like to be cold. “When I was in university I lived in my car. I had nowhere to live. I had no money. And it was freezing and I always remembered what that felt like.”

So, 21 years ago, she launched the Barrie Police Mitten Tree, “Year one was literally a little Charlie Brown tree. We maybe had 10 pairs.”

Janet Schefter (c) with elf-in-training Danielle Hutchinson (r) and Dan Blakeley (l) at Barrie 360

Many families, including seniors, are faced with low income, high rent, and everyday living expenses, and it can be a struggle to make ends meet. The need to help individuals stay warm within the community has continued to grow throughout the years.

Schefter retired this year to The Maritimes but returned to lead the campaign one more time…and train a new elf!

She has mitten trees at Barrie Police headquarters at 29 Sperling Drive, the Barrie Police satellite office at 60 Bell Farm Road, and at all three Zehrs stores in Barrie.

Homemade or brand new mittens only, please. Scarves and hats are also welcome. “Once our heads get cold and our hands get cold everything else gets cold and there’s no getting warm,” Schefter told Barrie 360.

The biggest need is mittens for adult males. Schefter says they tend to look after the needs of their family first.

Donations will be accepted until Monday, December 16 for distribution to the following organizations:

  • Youth Haven
  • David Busby Centre / Out of the Cold
  • The Women and Children’s Shelter of Barrie
  • Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre Cancer Care
  • CARAH House
  • Salvation Army Barrie
  • Hospice Simcoe

The success of the Mitten Tree can be attributed to the generosity of the community, local elementary schools and members of the Barrie Police Service. Donations have been sent in from Toronto and as far away as Nanaimo, British Columbia from avid knitters who contribute to the campaign every year.

banner photo via Barrie Police