Coat drives planned to keep residents warm

Published on Thu, Oct 4, 2012 by Carissa Wright

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(Photo by Brandy Kiger) Ann Spooner, director of the St. Martin’s Clothing Bank, hangs donated coats in the Community Assistance Program’s new coat drive trailer. The annual coat drive is also collecting blankets – a vital need for many area residents.

No one should go cold through the chilly months of the year for lack of a winter coat – and Blaine’s Community Assistance Program (CAP) is once again taking steps to keep area residents warm and toasty with its annual Winter Coat Drive.

Jeane Austin, who has led the program for the past six years, said she expects more families than ever to turn up in need of coats the week of October 16, when CAP volunteers will be distributing coats at their site next to the Blaine Food Bank, located at Fifth and C streets.

The Blaine area’s churches have been extremely generous already, Austin said, donating gently used coats in sizes ranging from infant to XXL.

New this year, the coat drive has its own dedicated trailer, located next to the St. Martin’s Clothing Bank. It will be a marked improvement over the past few years, when they distributed coats out in the parking lot.

In the beginning, the Winter Coat Drive was based in Northwood Alliance Church’s multipurpose classroom, which Austin said would be an impossibly tight squeeze these days, given how much the program has grown. In 2011, 239 coats were distributed to 109 area families.

“It’s huge,” she said, adding that she expects even more people in need of warm clothing this year.
In addition to the coats, there will also be mittens, gloves, sweaters, sweatshirts and hats available for families to pick up. Ann
Spooner, director of the St. Martin’s Clothing Bank also says that blankets are needed “desperately.” CAP only tracks the coats distributed, but Austin said there are already boxes full of children’s gloves and hats, many hand-knitted by area residents.

Donations will be accepted on Tuesdays and Fridays from 9 to 11 a.m. at the St. Martin’s Clothing Bank next to the Blaine Food Bank. Clothing bank volunteers have access to the coat drive trailer and can take donations during the clothing bank’s hours. CAP volunteers will also be accepting donations on October 15 from 9 a.m. to noon.

Distribution will take place October 16 from 9 a.m. to noon, October 17 from 5 to 7 p.m. and October 19 from 9 a.m. to noon. To be eligible to receive coats, families must be registered with the Blaine Food Bank.