A small business owner in Corner Brook is warming hearts and hands with her winter clothing drive.
Michelle Payne of Fox's General Store has set up a donation rack in her shop where anyone can come in and get a winter coat or a pair of mittens for free. The community support has been heartwarming, said Payne — but it's also sad.
"It's great on my side to see that it's helping people and that it's doing well for what I intended it to do," Payne said. "It's also really sad to know that so many in our community are hurting so much that even a winter jacket is something that they're trying to put off getting."
The idea was inspired by her own grandson. Payne saw how quickly he was growing out of his winter jackets and thought it'd be great to have a place where people could exchange them. But this year, with the high cost of living, Payne is seeing a whole lot more people in need, and the donation rack has taken on a life of its own.
People are donating every day, she said — snowsuits, jackets, winter boots and hats. She's even had a pair of skates show up at the store.
She sorts and restocks the rack every day and sees things go out the door as fast as they come in. Men's jackets are especially in high demand.
Taking in donations and getting them out on the rack is extra work for a small business that already takes up a lot of her time. But Payne said she knows what it's like to be on hard times and if the rack helps the community, it's important she does her part.
"I grew up with nothing and so I know what that feels like,"she said. "I know how hard it is. I know how pride can stop you from doing things,rom getting what you need."
Located in front of a city bus stop and open seven days a week, Payne wants people to see Fox's General Store as a safe and neutral place to find warm clothing, no questions asked.
"If you need something … we're here whenever you need to come."