700 coats needed to help kids stay warm

About 700 more coats are needed by Thursday to help the expected number of residents this winter.

The United Way of Johnson County’s annual collection drive, Operation Bundle Up, started in mid-September and was supposed to end Friday, but the organization is asking residents to dig deeper and donate gently used coats this week so that they can be given to families at a distribution event planned for next week.

Last year at this time, the United Way had collected almost 1,700 gently used coats. As of last Friday, the agency had barely 1,000 coats, executive director Nancy Lohr Plake said. She added the donation drive usually brings in about 1,800 coats a year.

“It’s the weather. People aren’t getting into their closets yet and getting out their winter coats because it’s been a really nice fall,” Plake said. “We publicized we would be collecting through the end of last week, but we extended the collection time to this week to get more coats.”

Plake is asking residents to go through their closets this week and search for coats that don’t fit their children anymore and aren’t torn, ripped or stained and still zip properly.

The United Way started the program in 2002 when the United Way was receiving calls for help from schools because children were coming to school in the middle of winter with no coat, Plake said.

“If you have three children, you’re looking at almost $150 to provide each with a coat. It’s a tough time for some of these families,” Plake said.

The United Way not only needs more coats to meet the anticipated demand but certain sizes of coats that are low in quantity, and the United Way needs a variety of sizes to offer the families.

Donations can be made at any Horizon Bank or dropped off at the United Way office in Franklin through Thursday. Residents can also donate hats and gloves, however, those have to be new and unused, Plake said.

The coats will be sorted, cleaned and distributed to families in need on Nov. 6. They are available to families and children who need them. No registration is required. Families need a photo ID, proof of Johnson County residency and a child in need.

The United Way is anticipating several donations during the beginning of this week and with the added days, Plake expects the donation drive will garner the same number of coats as previous years.

Plake couldn’t extend the collection time beyond Thursday because the dry cleaner needs enough time to get each coat back to organizers.

When families come to Turning Point Church on Nov. 6, about 80 volunteers will help children try on coats, Plake said.

“Watching children pick out their coat is one of the most rewarding times of the year. We will have families standing in line at noon to get a coat for their kid,” Plake said. “It’s a relief for parents because they know their child is going to be warm at the bus stop and at recess. It’s one less thing these families have to worry about.”

At a glance

How you can help Operation Bundle Up: 

Residents can take new or gently used coats to any Horizon Bank branch or the United Way of Johnson County located at 460 N. Morton St. in Franklin.

The coats must have all buttons and zippers intact, they cannot be torn or ripped or stained.

The United Way also will accept donations for new hats and gloves.

Donations will be accepted through Thursday.

Coats will be distributed from 4 to 7:30 p.m. Nov. 6 at Turning Point Church, 3600 N. Morton St. (U.S. 31 North) in Franklin.

Author photo
Corey Elliot is a reporter at the Daily Journal. He can be reached at celliot@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2719.