Coat effort warms hearts, area families

Before the doors opened at an annual coat giveaway, more than 100 people were already in line.

Sharon Fultz and her 5-year-old grandson had never been to Operation Bundle Up before and didn’t realize how long the line would be. Fultz was trying to keep Markie calm as dozens of parents and children waited outside of Turning Point Church, where the event is hosted each year.

The Edinburgh grandmother heard about Operation Bundle Up from a flyer at a local food bank, and knew it would cost at least $20 to buy Markie a coat. She didn’t know Markie would also be given two scarves, two hats and a pair of gloves, she said.

“I didn’t know he got all that,” Fultz said. “(Now we’ll) probably get him some new boots and shoes.”

After months of collecting donations, more than 1,500 coats were available for Johnson County kids and adults at the annual United Way of Johnson County event.

United Way officials had asked for last-minute donations last month when another 700 coats were still needed. Through last-minute giving, United Way employees were able to purchase additional coats the day of the event, said United Way executive director Nancy Lohr Plake.

In total, 1,570 coats were donated or purchased, she said.

And in less than four hours, nearly 1,000 coats were given out to 416 children and 166 adults, Lohr Plake said. Coats were given to any person who brought proof of residency within Johnson County.

Franklin resident LaDonna Lewis had been to Operation Bundle Up three or four years ago, and knew what kind of lines to expect. So she planned ahead, getting to the church at 2 p.m., and was the first one in line.

“I’ve got six people in my household, so this is convenient for me. Now I can pay some bills,” Lewis said.

Buying coats for her three children, ages 8, 10 and 11, would have cost her hundreds of dollars otherwise, she said.

Candice Bishop of Franklin waited for less than an hour before the doors opened so she could get new coats for her 6- and 4-year-old daughters. They attended last year’s Operation Bundle Up, but the girls outgrew their coats again, Bishop said.

The $40 or $50 Bishop would have spent on each coat will now be able to go toward food, electric and heating bills, she said.

If residents were not able to stop by Operation Bundle Up, extra coats collected will be available at Lord’s Locker in Trafalgar and Community Ministries Center of Mount Pleasant Christian Church in Greenwood.

By the numbers

Here is a look at the number of coats collected and distributed at Operation Bundle Up:


Distributed: 939 

Collected: 1,570


Distributed: 1,337

Collected: 1,743


Distributed: 826

Collected: 1,801


Distributed: 1,101

Collected: 1,770


Distributed: 1,514

Collected: 2,117

SOURCE: United Way of Johnson County

At a glance

Here is where to find leftover coats left after the Operation Bundle Up distribution:

Community Ministries Center of Mount Pleasant Christian Church, 381 Bluff Road, Greenwood. 889-9650

Lord’s Locker, 101 S. Pleasant St., Trafalgar. 878-7708