Helping the homeless in Toronto a single scarf at a time

Click to play video: 'Warming the homeless in Toronto one scarf at a time'
Warming the homeless in Toronto one scarf at a time
WATCH ABOVE: With winter now officially upon us, you can expect the frigid temperatures will follow. For Toronto's homeless, that means the cold reality is about to set in. Caryn Lieberman has the story of one family doing its part to keep strangers warm – Dec 24, 2018

Noa Mellon spends her days crocheting. It is her passion, and in many ways, it has become her life’s work.

“Kindness to everybody. [It] doesn’t matter who they are, what colour, what sex, doesn’t matter,” Mellon told Global News on a cold Sunday in December.

She was downtown with her family, distributing the scarves she spent months completing for the homeless.

“They don’t have. So that’s what we’re here for,” she noted simply.

The wife and mother of three began crocheting for Toronto’s homeless several years ago.

She used to donate piles of hats and scarves to various organizations, but decided three winters ago to involve her family in the process.

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Her daughter, Jordyn Mellon, accompanied her on the trip downtown this year.

“My wonderful mother. I’m very proud of her,” Jordyn said as she hugged her mother close.

“It was just so hard living downtown and going into my warm home every night and seeing people downstairs from me sleeping in the cold,” Jordyn said.

“It’s just so easy to take two seconds out of your day to give them something warm like a scarf or a sandwich.”

As the hours passed, the family travelled from Yonge-Dundas Square to Union Station, hanging the homemade scarves on scaffolding, poles and railings along the way.

Noa’s husband Rob Mellon set out the plan.

“So what we do now is we just go over by Union Station where they have the walkway and we hang a lot of the scarves, because I know from having worked down here, a lot of the homeless go out there when it gets cold.”

Every few steps, Rob thoughtfully approached a homeless person and offered a scarf and a care package.

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“This is for you my friend, ok?” he said.

Attached to each scarf is a message:

“I am not lost but I am happy you found me. I was handmade for you by someone who cares. If you are homeless and you need me, please take me.”

There’s also a Hebrew phrase.

“It says Tikkun Olam, which means repairing the world,” Noa explained. “Tikkun Olam is believed to help restore balance to this world while improving the inequities of societal corruption, ignorance, abuse and apathy through acts of kindness.”

The family’s mission to warm the homeless, one scarf at a time, comes from this ancient Jewish teaching, Noa said.

“It really doesn’t take a lot of time to do something nice for someone,” added Rob, who just moments later, crossed Bay street to offer another scarf to a man, sleeping on the ground.

“Hey, Merry Christmas,” he said, shaking the man’s hand.

A small voice replied, “and Merry Christmas to you.”

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“They’re so ignored and so invisible to most people and they’re people too and they deserve to be treated with kindness. I think they’re just grateful to be acknowledged to be honest with you,” Noa said.

Her mission is year-round and she’s open to support and help from volunteers.

Mellon started a GoFundMe campaign to help raise funds so she can continue to crochet.

Her goal is to raise $7500 to incorporate hygiene care packages for all recipients and to help with the cost of yarn.

“One hundred per cent of the money I raise here will buy yarn for scarves, as well as pay for the printing of the gift tags that are attached to each scarf,” Mellon wrote on the GoFundMe page.

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“We have recently discussed expanding our distribution of scarves to include socks and a small bag of essential personal hygiene items. Making monetary donations more important than ever, so that we can purchase these crucial items.”

Some of what she has included in this year’s care packages are socks from three generous Canadian donors: Eversox, Motley Woollens and Stanfield’s, plus lip balms from Stix4lips. The tags attached to the care packages are generously donated by AJ Printing.

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By the end of the Mellon’s Sunday afternoon downtown, dozens of multi-coloured scarves have found necks to hang around.

Those that haven’t found a new owner can be seen swinging in the wind with the intent that anyone in need can take one for free.

“We’re doing it to sort of propel the Pay it Forward movement, which is a really important movement especially where the homeless are concerned,” she said.

“They’re people too. We hope that they feel that there are people out there that care.”

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