For many families, winter poses especially serious financial problems. Everything seems to cost more; heating, fuel, home maintenance and other expenses drain a family’s resources. Often the budget just won’t stretch to cover winter clothing. So every winter, thousands suffer for want of a something that the majority takes for granted: a warm winter coat. But there’s help from an organization called “One Warm Coat.” If you find yourself needing winter clothing this year, check them out. You can get a free winter coat for every member of your family. If you’re one of the lucky families with plenty, consider donating a new or gently used (clean and in good repair, please) winter jackets to a participating location (check the website for One Warm Coat locations near you). Coat drives are in full swing with colder temps setting in.
No family should have to choose whether to buy food, rent or warm winter coat. But that is a dilemma faced by families in all communities, not just “poor” ones. Look at how kids are dressed on school playgrounds; even in affluent districts, you see kids shivering in inadequate jackets. Children come to school in over-sized adult coats, jackets with broken zippers or winter jackets that don’t offer protection against the elements. This usually isn’t because their parents won’t buy kids a winter coat. It’s because they can’t. Good quality winter jackets cost $80 to $300 each; even expensive coats aren’t always well-made. They break or children outgrow them.
Many teachers and school staff try to provide used clothing for children, but some are too shy or proud to accept the loan of a winter coat. That’s understandable: kids have learned that illnesses and germs are spread by sharing clothing. It’s also very embarrassing for children; most would rather suffer the cold that the awkwardness of being the kid in the castoff jacket. Children aren’t the only ones to suffer from lack of winter clothing. Displaced adults, senior citizens, homeless, disabled, handicapped, those living on a fixed income; all too often they go without because winter clothing is the last thing they can afford. The need is greatest in the north and midwest climates, but even regions that aren’t snowy are generally cold and wet in winter. This leads to spread of germs and illness.
If you have extra gently-used winter jackets, One Warm Coat will be glad to connect it with someone who can use it. If you represent an organization that would like to host your own coat drive, One Warm Coat can help you. They have resources to help student organizations, charitable organizations, social clubs, religious institutions and business start their own coat drives. Just type in your zip code and you can find out where to donate coats or get to get new winter jackets if you need them. One Warm Coat also provides information about where collected coats will be delivered on coat drive details links. Coat drives and distribution kicked off late in October and many will run through November. Check individual locations for details.
One Warm Coat is not the only winter clothing drive. Many states have locally operated coat drives. PBS hosts a winter sweater drive in memory of the late Fred Rodgers of the beloved Mister Rodger’s Neighborhood children’s show. Local churches and businesses have coat drives. Doctors’ offices, organizations, businesses and municipalities operate mitten trees at Christmas and collect donations of gloves, hats, mittens and scarves. “Got a coat? Leave a coat. Need a coat? Take a coat.” That could be the motto of these important charity missions.