‘Branching out’ to keep Cornwall warm

Baldwin House Public Educator Danielle MacNeil and Executive Director Debbie Fortier stand next to The Giving Tree on Second Street West in Cornwall, Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017. The Giving Tree allows people who can't afford a warm coat to get one for free. The tree relies on community donations. (Danielle MacNeil via Newswatch Group)

CORNWALL – A community store, supporting a Cornwall women’s shelter, is using a couple of trees on its property to help keep Cornwall warm.

Serendipity Boutique launched The Giving Tree today (Wednesday) – a coat rack suspended between two trees on its property at 331 Second Street West.

Baldwin House Executive Director Debbie Fortier says not everyone is able to afford a warm coat, even at their $5 price point inside the store. “Not everyone who needs a warm jacket has that $5, or would be comfortable coming into the store to shop,” she said.

The rack is being replenished with community donations and the boutique is also hoping to keep coats with imperfections out of the landfill.

The store wanted to be sure everyone in the community is warm during winter while offering dignity and anonymity.

Serendipity Boutique is accepting donations for The Giving Tree inside the store (Wednesday-Friday 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.) or at the shelter around the clock (they ask that you not put items directly on the rack as they need to be sorted and reviewed).

And what about vandals?

“There is so much positive that can come out of this project, and we choose to focus on those we can help, and those who will benefit,” Fortier said. “We don’t want to let the idea of an undesirable outcome stop us from even trying.”

All proceeds from sales at Serendipity Boutique go to help Baldwin House – a non-profit women’s shelter in the city.