Cape Bretoners are coming up with new ways to help people in need

Justin Ayre owns and operates four pizzerias in Cape Breton. He is part of a new program to help people in need. (Josefa Cameron/CBC - image credit)
Justin Ayre owns and operates four pizzerias in Cape Breton. He is part of a new program to help people in need. (Josefa Cameron/CBC - image credit)

Four pizzerias in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality are now designated locations to drop off items for people in need.

Alexandra's Pizza locations on Charlotte Street and Kings Road and the North Sydney and Glace Bay locations are all accepting clothing and camping items for people without housing.

Justin Ayre is the owner of the pizzerias. He said that he noticed there are many people experiencing homelessness across Cape Breton and he wants to help.

"We had a really cold winter," he said. "It's important to get these people what they need, shaving gear, tents, sleeping bags and meals and stuff like that."

Last year, he noticed people sleeping in bank entrances, but he said some are locked out now.

"I see it all over Charlotte Street … And I feel bad for these people who are now left out in the cold, they have absolutely nowhere to go," Ayre said. "So, yeah, whatever we can do to help them."

The initiative is called Huts for the Homeless. It is a collaboration with the Community Homeless Shelter and Loaves and Fishes Sydney.

Ayre said donations are already coming in. He plans to keep it an ongoing project.

Josefa Cameron/CBC
Josefa Cameron/CBC

The items are to be dropped off at the pizza shops, then distributed to people in need through the shelter and the Loaves and Fishes.

Lisa Lannon of Sydney began the initiative. She worked with people experiencing homelessness in Fort McMurray, Alta., and noticed a desperate need when she returned to Nova Scotia.

"I've always been a volunteer person," she said. "I really don't feel fulfilled in my life unless we're doing some type of volunteerism."

Lannon also noticed a lack of support for people experiencing homelessness in Cape Breton. She said she is worried for people living in tents and being removed from public parks.

She approached Ayre to do something about it. Ayre said that Lannon's idea struck a chord.

Provided by Lisa Lanoon
Provided by Lisa Lanoon

"When I was fourteen I lived in Halifax with my mom and her boyfriend and one night I was kicked out of my apartment," he said. "I was at a young age. I didn't know where to go. Luckily, I found somewhere to stay.

"I kind of connect with these people because it happens. It happened to me and it can easily happen to anyone."

Lannon and Ayre plan to continue helping people in Cape Breton.

After speaking with some people who have no housing, Lannon learned that they need a place to shower without feeling degraded. She said that once Huts for the Homeless is running smoothly, she will look into finding available showers.

A live music event with an auction to collect donations and comfort items will be held at Alexandra's Pizza in downtown Sydney on March 25 from noon to 6 p.m.