The Niagara News is the community newspaper of Niagara College located in Welland and Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada. It is created and produced by the students of the Niagara College Journalism program.
Standing tall and colourful, covered in scarves on Glenridge Avenue, the scarf tree is well known to most residents of St. Catharines.
Lindy Menzies is the woman behind the scenes of the eye-catching mystery and has been hanging scarves for four consecutive years.
She says the scarves are meant for anyone walking by who might be cold, no matter whom that may be.
“We get a lot of pedestrian traffic,” said Menzies.
She hangs the scarves with intentions to help passers-by who are cold.
The scarf tree has gotten plenty of feedback over the years.
“I don’t expect it,” said Menzies, “but when I get it, it’s really nice.”
“I had a Brock student tell me about a night where he was walking to go downtown, he was freezing and grabbed a scarf for the walk,” said Menzies, “He said, ‘you saved my life that night.’”
Menzies also had another man, who happened to be homeless, knock on her door during the summer asking her to fill up his water bottle.
After she agreed, he thanked her. “He said, ‘I knew you’d be a nice person because you put water out in the summer for dogs, and have the scarf tree in the winter.’” said Menzies.
Being located near Brock University and the homeless shelter at Southridge Community Church, numerous people walk by her house daily and Menzies says many of them aren’t properly dressed for the weather.
She initially got the idea from the Internet when she saw pictures of scarves that were tied around random trees with signs that read: “I’m not lost, take me if you’re cold.” Menzies decided that she’d expand the notion.
“I wanted to take it further and have the message ‘help yourself but pay it forward.’ That was the most important part,” she said.
This past winter, Menzies tried to add hats to the yard but, the cold weather caused them to freeze.
“Next year I plan to put the bin out with gloves, hats, and more scarves,” said Menzies, “because after the rain, no one wants wet scarves.”
Menzies wants pedestrians to know that anyone is welcome to take winter accessories as needed.