Pensacola woman sets up donation tree for homeless; downtown cleaners take down sign

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PENSACOLA, Fla. (WKRG) — To help give back this year, a Pensacola woman has set up a Christmas tree in downtown Pensacola for the homeless.

Facebook user Rebecca Wallis has set up a Facebook event called Holidays for the Homeless, according to the event page. The event encourages locals to leave several items under the tree, which is located at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Plaza, to help keep the homeless warm this winter. The idea would be to allow the homeless to come and take what they needed.

Wallis set up the tree on Christmas.

On Thursday, News 5 went to take video of the tree. That’s when cleaning “ambassadors” with the Pensacola Downtown Improvement Board took down a sign which clearly marked the tree as a place where locals could donate to the homeless and homeless could pick up items. The Downtown Improvement Board was created by the Florida Legislature to correct downtown Pensacola “blight”, according to its bylaws.

One of the cleaning “ambassadors” told News 5 the sign and tree are not allowed at the plaza, and she was told to take it down. The woman said the sign had to go, but the tree would stay for now.

News 5 reached out to the city to determine whether city code prohibited trees or signs being posted in the area. Kaycee Lagarde, spokeswoman for the City of Pensacola, told News 5 that city offices are closed today, so it was not city code enforcement that required the sign be taken down.

News 5 reached out to the Downtown Improvement Board Ambassadors’ supervisor for more information. We left a message and are waiting to hear back.

Wallis is hoping residents can donate these presents under the tree for the homeless:

  • Blankets
  • Gloves
  • Socks
  • Hats
  • Scarves
  • Jackets
  • Hand & Shoe warmers
  • Bottled water
  • Dry snack like foods
  • Easy to open/eat canned good foods
  • Wipes
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Books
  • Journals/Notebooks & Pens
  • Umbrellas/Ponchos

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