Cold weather is on the horizon. It’s time to pull our scarves and hat out of the closet. And it’s time to think of those struggling in the moment who need a scarf or hat—or especially, a warm coat.
Autumn and winter months are a terrible struggle for many people. Low income families with growing children often need help when it comes to sending their child off to school—coats, mittens, and rain or snow boots are a must have. Yet, many parents who already struggle with increasing bills in the winter months (heating bills, for one), can only wonder how to keep their kids safe and warm.
Those experiencing homelessness also have it rough. Sure, there are overnight shelters. Yet, there are not enough shelters and some turn people away for lack of identification or other problems. And some homeless people, who perhaps out of mental illness, are unwilling to turn to these shelters for help. And many over night shelters are just that—overnight—not letting people in until after dark, and then shut their doors early next morning. Outdoor temperatures are still frigid at seven or eight in the morning.
That’s their reality.
We can lift their burdens. Getting a warm coat and other winter gear to those in need can be naturally easy.
Some ways to help are:
- When you buy yourself a new hat or pair of gloves, grab a second one and donate. Often, stores have sales of “buy one, get one half-price” or of a like-wise bargain—perfect for helping someone.
- When Christmas shopping (or other holiday shopping), include a coat on your shopping list; a coat for someone in need.
- As your child(ren) grow out of their coats, donate the old.
- Keep extra gloves and hats in your everyday bag, or an extra coat or two in your car. When out and about, if you see someone, perhaps someone homeless, who is begging for assistance, offer them one of these extras.
- Donate to coat drives. These drives are sometimes found through employers, local stores, clubs, schools, churches and synagogues.
Years ago, when living in New Mexico, and starting when the winter months hit, a child’s red wagon was parked in the sanctuary of my church. Coats and toys were collected by putting them in this red wagon. As we congregated for worship services every Sabbath, we’d see the wagon was fuller than the week before.
Or, you can run a coat drive yourself. This can be as simple or as involved as you’d like.
Earlier this month, through a community organization I belong to, I helped run a coat drive; a simple one.
Starting a month before our October monthly membership meeting, I put the word out that we would collect coats. I then followed up with messages on Facebook and other online places that our members hang out in. On our meeting night, I designated a table for collections. At the meeting’s conclusion, we bagged up the coats. These will be given to a community agency for disbursement. It was a “one-night” collection and went well.
For a more involved coat drive, visit the website for One Warm Coat. It is a resourceful tool to help you plan and promote your coat drive. They even have a map to click on to find out which agencies or places in your community to donate those coats.
Together, we can make positive change in our communities. We can help those in need. I hope you will join me in the efforts to ease the burden that cold weather brings to low income families, to those experiencing homelessness, and to others who simply need a helping hand.
One Warm Coat
Please share in the comments how you plan to get involved, knowing that someone doesn’t have to face the cold season alone.