It is difficult to think of children needing a coat to keep warm with weather forecasters predicting highs in the 70s next week, but the need is great because winter weather will be here soon enough.
And that is the goal of the Chamber Coat Closet committee — to provide every child, or adult, who does not have a coat to keep them warm during those winter months with one.
The month of November has been used to collect coats across the county and the collection sites will wrap up that drive Friday. But because the need is so great, the Coat Closet committee is encouraging anyone that has not yet donated to please do so. Coats and donations will be accepted until Friday, Dec. 14 at the Chamber office.
“We were very disappointed when we did not receive the same grant funding this year as we have in the past,” shared co-chairwoman Sherri Smith. “This is why we have taken it as a personal challenge for each of the committee members and the Chamber, itself, to push extra hard this year to raise the number of coats collected and increase the financial donations to this worthy cause. Our community has always met the needs of our children and their involvement is vital to our program’s success.”
Janna Bass, Clinton-Sampson Chamber of Commerce executive director, explained that the number of requests that had been received by the Chamber was over 300.
“Our distributors have already requested over 300 coats for students that have need of a warm coat. The numbers are possibly going to be even higher. That is why it is so important that all who can try to get their donations in,” asserted Bass.
Coats are distributed through the schools, the Partnership for Children and the Department of Social Services.
“Our coat donations have been a little short so far this year,” cited Marie Daniels, co-chairwoman for the Chamber Coat Closet. “We have to take the coats we receive and match them with the requests, and if there is not a coat that meets the needs of the particular request, then we have to go out and purchase a coat to fill that student’s need. That is where financial donations come in. However, if we can get a variety of coats donated then we will not have to purchase as many coats,” stressed Daniels.
Both Smith and Daniels urged people to make donations. They will accept donations any time but need them donated by Friday, Dec. 14 so they can be distributed to the students prior to schools closing for the Christmas break.
“We are hoping to have all the coats distributed by Dec. 21. It is a big job, but we are up to the challenge. We just hope the community will step up and contribute if they have not done so already,” commented Bass.
The executive director shared that Wanda Coleman had done a unique incentive program with her dance mothers. Bass stated that Coleman had the mothers donate coats at the Chamber office, and for each coat donated they received a slip signed by someone from the Chamber office and then the slips were entered into a drawing for prizes such as a free month’s dance tuition or a free recital costume.
“Hopefully other businesses will seek to do other incentives for their employees or customers to help us receive more coat donations,” said Bass.
“Although the collection boxes will be removed Friday, donations will still be accepted,” reiterated Daniels. “We ask that you bring them to the Chamber office and we will get them to the warehouse location,” added the co-chairwoman.
Members of the committee have already started the sorting and selecting process but know there is a larger need than the coats which have been donated thus far.
The co-chairwomen and Bass are in the process of working out a schedule for the distributor representative to come to the warehouse and fill their requests.
“The counselors know the students better than we do, and will be able to make more appropriate selections than we would be able to do for the students that we do not know,” expressed Smith.
Bass, along with the co-chairwomen, expressed their appreciation to all those who have already donated coats or made a financial donation.
“We also want to thank our distributors, our site collections members and our sponsors. Without their assistance, none of this would be possible. Thank you for helping us to help our children and families in need of something warm to wear,” remarked Bass.
The Chamber Coat Closet is sponsored by Four County Electric Membership Corporation, Clinton Kiwanis, Butterball, Carolina Eye Care, Sampson County, Smithfield, Clinton Rotary, Patriot State Bank, Progress Energy, Ford of Clinton, Star Telephone, Boogie Shoes, Matthews, Clinton Main Street Program, Edward Jones, First Citizens Bank, Woodmen of the World, Go Automotive, Sampson Medical Center, Lockamy/Tek Insurance Agency, Community Home Care and Hospice, Mary Mack’s Inc. and Century Link.