With the weather turning colder in the past few days, one is reminded that a coat is needed to keep warm. That is what the Clinton-Sampson Chamber of Commerce is hoping to keep in everyone’s mind as they conduct their Chamber Coat Closet service project. The 2012 campaign kicked off Thursday at noon with a celebration event held at the City Market. The Chamber will accept coats the entire month of November in order to provide for those in need of warm clothing as winter approaches.
“We are really excited about our service project to collect coats for needy children and adults again this year,” stated Marie Daniels, co-chairwoman of the Coat Closet and employee with Liberty Hospice. “It is the first day of collection and we already have over 300 requests for coats. Collection boxes have been placed throughout the county for people to donate new or gently used coats,” added Daniels.
The co-chairwomen went on to report that some of the places she had taken boxes to had already requested additional containers for collections. Daniels further stated that county commissioner Jefferson Strickland had visited the kickoff and stated that the county commissioners would do anything they could to make this project a success.
“Mr. Strickland challenged us to set our goal at 1,200 coats. With his help, and that of many, many others, we can reach that goal. The need is there. We just have to receive the needed coats,” asserted Daniels.
The other co-chairwoman, Sherri Smith, also commented on the need for coat donations this year. Smith works with Patriot State Bank.
“It is only the first of November and we have over 300 requests for coats already. That number will certainly grow tremendously before the month is over. Unfortunately, we did not receive some of the grant money we did last year, so we are even more dependent on the community to either make coat donations or monetary donations for us to provide coats to all those who will request them,” stressed Smith. “We urge everyone to look through their closets and pull out their old gently used coats or go purchase some new coats and bring them to any of our collection sites,” added Smith.
The kickoff event was filled with food vendors, local talent providing a variety of entertainment and Robert Stroud of Boogie Shoes providing the musical entertainment. The Midway High School band, Sampson Community Theatre, Nancy Heath and the Midway High School Dancers, The Sonshine Kids from the Learning Station, Lakewood High School Band, Grove Park Baptist Church children’s choir and adult quartet and representatives from Gotta Dance Fine Arts Center all provided entertainment on Thursday. The 2012 sponsors were also recognized during the festivities Thursday.
Chamber executive director Janna Bass expressed the urgent need for people to participate.
“We do already have over 300 coat requests and expecting more to come in each day throughout this month. The need is there for people to donate. We need for everyone to become involved in this community project. The kickoff has been great and we hope people all over Sampson and Duplin counties will reach out to others and give,” remarked Bass.
This year, the Chamber has reached into surrounding counties as a part of one of the grant requirements. Response from Duplin County has already been good, said Bass.
Chamber president Gary Mac Herring stated that the Chamber Coat Closet was a great way in which people from across the county could become involved in a worthwhile project to help others.
“The Coat Closet is a great way for our citizens to come together to help others in need. As winter approaches, the need for people to have a warm coat is enormous and through the Chamber Coat Closet we will be able to meet many of those needs,” cited Herring.
“We want to thank everyone for participating in the kick off and thank others in advance as they plan to participate through giving coats or making monetary donations to the coat closet. Marie and Sherri have done a great job organizing the Chamber Coat Closet project this year and we all want to see it be a huge success so we can provide needed coats to all who request them,” stressed Bass.