It all began when she heard how busy and overwhelmed the medical staffs at local hospitals were with Covid 19 patients.
Chris Tompkins- also known as Chrissy- a resident of Halifax since 1994, knew she wanted to do something to help.
She learned of the mask shortages that were affecting medical staff and the need to wear masks in public for citizens so she borrowed a sewing machine in March and started sewing masks and hanging them in baggies on her front tree, she said.
Tompkins has two nieces who have young children all under age 7, both are emergency room nurses at the Signature Brockton Hospital. She heard of the daily struggles many were experiencing.
The tree has been thriving ever since. Items do change daily and are also spread out on a table now as well, with the efforts of others providing items not going unnoticed.
She calls her sewing circle a tribe of local woman who are each inspiring in their own ways lending one another sewing supplies, fabric and adding to the donations for Halifax residents.
Marie Cody, a staff member at the Halifax Library, loaned me the sewing machine and materials. She did so much … I wouldn’t have been able to do it without her help at the start, said Tompkins.
She also worked on a project with Ruth Mc Grath each completing and taking half of their 100 handmade facemasks and dropping them off at the Veteran’s Hospital in Brockton.
Both women play cribbage with a resident there once a week. She misses the interaction and knows that the elderly are a group at risk of depression during isolation due to quarantine restrictions and separation.
She serves dozens of the Halifax elderly as she is also a longtime van driver for the Halifax Council on Aging on Mondays and Fridays.
Keeping in contact with her regulars who have become her friends is important to her as well.
Her passion for giving back came when she said she was at her lowest, losing her home in the real estate crash, raising three children after working night shifts for 14 years with the Brockton Postal Services, and often sleeping only two hours a night. She realized taking care of her youngest who was diagnosed with Autism was the deciding factor to her leaving her full time job. She lost her home.
“I was at my lowest. Elaine Dolan’s words were
“Go volunteer and you will realize you don’t have it so bad.” Dolan was head of the housing agency in Halifax, now retired, and remains a friend.
“It was the best advice I ever had been given.”
She also keeps in mind the famous adage, “What goes around comes around”.
“People laugh when I say ‘What comes around goes around’… She knows may sound as if she is saying it backwards, but in her philosophy she believes if you have something (it comes to you first) you should send it back – by paying it forward, she said.
She recently connected with a Halifax resident Jessica Erwin who started her own giving tree, said Tompkins.
She called the efforts of others inspirational and encouraging. It is extremely important showing so many residents are pitching in and all helping one another.
“It is restoring faith. People are trying to reach others and I believe 100 million percent the community of Halifax is creating community involvement. It becomes full circle.”
A new addition to the Halifax Local Face book page is a Feel Good Friday’s nomination or shout outs.
If someone reaches out via direct message they can nominate another resident for their act of thoughtfulness. It is important that their gesture did not go unnoticed, she said.
If someone is struggling they can also private message Tompkins through the page and receive confidential pick up of items they may need.
As a site manager for Brockton Council on Aging Meals on Wheels for more than ten years she is used to prepping meals for 40 plus people on community lunch days two days a week. Now that those gatherings are on hold she decided to continue cooking and feeds about five families a week in town from her own kitchen.
With a private message and confirmed serving details she can help someone who is in need. This past week she had chili and a vegetarian soup.
The meals are a non-contact pick up – for more details contact her directly through the Halifax Local page.
To drop off donations of canned goods or items of necessity to the Giving Tree she is located at 37 Chestnut Road Halifax off route 36. Tompkins gently reminds if you drop off carefully check any products for expiration dates. She can always be reached on the Halifax Local page.