The Clinton-Sampson Chamber of Commerce wrapped up its fourth annual Chamber Coat Closet this past Saturday, and while the total number of coats collected is still being figured, many in need throughout the community have already benefited from the project, receiving the gift of warmth this holiday season.
“We’re still in the process of tallying up the coats,” said Janna Bass, executive director of the Chamber. The new and gently used coats, in sizes ranging from infant to adult, were collected during the month of November with 35 convenient dropoff locations located throughout the county.
“Right now we have about 600 coats (that have been counted) and 200 have already been distributed,” Bass continued. “And that’s only fulfilled maybe three or four lists (of people in need) that we have.”
The Chamber’s goal is to distribute all the coats within the next two weeks, just in time for Christmas. Helping the Chamber get the coats to those who need them are the local Partnership for Children, Clinton City Schools, and Sampson County Schools.
“The schools are a huge help in the distribution,” noted Bass, explaining how the school systems make sure their teachers know about the project so educators can make recommendations to the Chamber of children and families who might need a coat this year.
Keeping individuals and families bundled up and warm this winter wouldn’t be possible without the community pulling together to help take care of its own, Bass stressed, praising the businesses and organizations who supported the Chamber Coat Closet through sponsorships and community partnerships.
“A big thanks to our sponsors,” shared Bass, pointing out that the Chamber still has sponsorship money that will be used within the next few days to purchase more coats, namely ones in specific sizes that are needed but weren’t donated or that the Chamber has a great need for.
Bass also thanked the project’s community partners like The Dance Shoppe and TuTu’s Too, sharing that owner and artistic director Wanda Coleman challenged her students to donate as many coats as they could; the more coats they donated, the more tickets they received which resulted in more chances to win prizes including complimentary dance recital tickets, a month’s paid tuition, and free t-shirts and sweatshirts.
“We had lots of dance moms come by and donate,” Bass said, calling the challenge to the dancers “a great idea.”
Other community partners included Ford of Clinton which committed that it would give $25 to the Chamber Coat Closet for every vehicle sold during November, and sweetFrog which gave a portion of its Oct. 17 sales earned between 5 and 8 p.m. to the Chamber’s effort.
Area high school Key Clubs also participated, competing with each other to see who could collect and donate the most coats. Once the winner is declared, that club will receive a $100 prize from the Clinton Kiwanis for pizza party or a trip to sweetFrog.
“These community partners have been a really great asset,” Bass added.
Even though coats and monetary donations are still being counted, the Chamber anticipates a highly successful, impactful project this year, following the trend of years past.
This year’s Chamber Coat Closet has already surpassed one goal it set — collecting at least 100 coats on Nov. 1, the kick-off day of the project.Last year, 85 coats were collected on kick-off day.
In total, 1,336 coats were collected and distributed during last year, surpassing the Chamber’s goal of 1,200 coats.
According to Bass, this year Commissioner Jefferson Strickland upped the challenge to the Chamber, setting their collection and distribution goal at 1, 350 coats. As the Chamber waits to see if it met or surpassed this year’s goal, Bass asks that the community contact the Chamber at 910-592-6177 if they know of anyone — a person or a family — who might be in need of a coat this December.
Lauren Williams can be reached at 910-592-8137, ext. 117 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.