Red, green, striped and dog-paw-printed mittens hang as ornaments on the Mashpee Mitten Tree in the front office of Mr. T’s Auto Repair shop on Main Street in Mashpee.
Heidi Trottier, who co-owns the shop with her husband, Terry Trottier, came up with the idea for the mitten tree earlier this month.
Ms. Trottier’s idea was that inside each mitten would be a gift card donated from community members. Then the mittens would be distributed to students in need at the Kenneth C. Coombs and Quashnet schools before Christmas.
“I have a nephew [Christian Hakala] in the 5th grade, and being around his family and friends, I noticed a lot of the parents are having a hard time working and making ends meet,” Ms. Trottier said. “So I usually try to do something to give back every season, and I just came up with this idea to try to help the school system out.”
In the past, Ms. Trottier said she has done food collections and clothing drives.
“He’s my inspiration; he’s my fun guy,” she said of Christian, her youngest nephew.
Ms. Trottier has no children of her own, but she has two stepdaughters with children of their own. She also has six brothers who have all sent their children through the Mashpee Public School system. Christian is the last Mashpee student in the family.
Ms. Trottier began collecting donations on Sunday, November 15 and will continue to accept donations until Tuesday, December 15.
“I’m actually going to have my nephew bring the cards and mittens into the principal and will put them in a nice gift box,” Ms. Trottier said.
From there, the Quashnet School adjustment counselor Margaret Morrison, with the help of counselors at K.C. Coombs, will decide which students will receive the mitten gifts.
“I felt it was a great way to get the community to do a nice feel good thing and also for myself—it’s just a feel good thing that we all need right now,” Ms. Trottier said.
Ms. Trottier said her customers are noticing and taking interest in the tree when they come to get their car worked on.
“One customer this morning saw the tree and said she’d be back next week with gift cards,” she said. “Any denomination is fine. I have a lot of people ask about how much and where they should get the gift cards to. Even local businesses want to bring their own gift cards from their own store, whether it’s the toy shop or something food-related.”
For those who would love to donate but would rather not enter the building, Ms. Trottier offers contactless options.
“I have a drop slot in the door, so people can put the cards in an envelope or they can mail it if they don’t want to come here,” she said.
Also hanging on the tree are hand-painted angel ornaments.
Frederick Poulin, Ms. Trottier’s friend and a French artist who lives in Yarmouth Port, donated the angels.
“Each angel is different; there’s not one with the same face,” Ms. Trottier said.
Those who wish to donate do not need to bring a mitten.
“There’s no more space for any more mittens, so if we do well and get tons of gift cards, we will just double-fill the mittens,” Ms. Trottier said.
If all goes well this holiday season, Ms. Trottier said she hopes to continue the Mashpee Mitten Tree as a new holiday tradition.