Coats for Kids drive ongoing

A mild start to winter might have dulled the urgency for warm coats, but temperatures are forecast to cool off in about a week, and despite recent daytime highs in the 60s, the mornings are sharp and cold.

The Coats for Kids volunteers said Tuesday that donations have been lagging somewhat because the winter cold has yet to set in, but they expect donations to pick up as December arrives.

Sitting by the bright windows on the first floor of the Dime Bank Building Tuesday afternoon, RSVP (Retired Senior Volunteer Program) volunteer Pearl Guyer said the drive to provide both needy children and adults with winter coats is still accepting donated outer wear, including gloves, coats and hats.

“It’s coming in a bit low this year, but I think that’s because of the warm weather,” she said.

Tuesday was the first day for distribution, and volunteer Sandy Bach said the center gave away about 90 coats in the first two hours. Checking a handwritten list on a clipboard, she noted that some people from outlying communities in Washington County picked up large numbers — 11 to Beverly, 19 to Lowell — likely because they were getting coats for others who couldn’t get into Marietta.

“You need a coat, you take a coat, there’s no testing or questions asked,” she said.

Racks set up around the room showed coats of all sizes, although Bach said the children’s sizes go first. The drive collected more than 450 coats last year, and Bach said she expects to reach that mark this year. Donors can drop off coats at 13 locations around Washington County, and donations are being accepted through Dec. 11, Bach said.

The drive involves more than coats. Guyer and a friend, June Rose, crochet hats year-round to give away during the drive, gloves are available, and Guyer, who led the drive for seven years, noted there are hoodies that appeal to teens, and one girl found a bathrobe to take home.

The RSVP group at the O’Neill Center organizes the drive every year with help from sponsors who set up collection points — six Peoples Bank branches, Kroger, Mancan, four Marietta City Schools locations, Washington State Community College, The Marietta Times and the Washington Electric Cooperative, Inc.

“Those little kids, they like holding their coats and picking up hats,” volunteer Jaye Warman said.

Coats that are left, Bach noted, are given to other charities and shelter s that serve the needy.

Mancan has been one of the collection points for seven years, staffing specialist Michelle Arbaugh said. This year, the collection bin has filled three times, and the last one included a monetary donation, she said.

“It’s in all our offices, but whatever is collected in Washington County stays in Washington County,” she said. Mancan has dozens of locations around Ohio and in other states.

Lisa Valentine, director of RSVP in Marietta, said the drive is in particular need of children’s coats size 10-14 and toddler’s coats. She also noted that Mancan is the only drop-off location that can accept money — cash donations are used by volunteers to buy coats in whatever sizes are needed most urgently.

Valentine said the coat drive runs smoothly because of the capabilities of its sponsors and volunteers.

“The Times delivers the coats, the volunteers sort, mend and, if necessary, wash them,” she said. “John Lehman (who owns the Dime Bank Building through Promanco real estate) lets us have this warm, safe, convenient space, a perfect location.”

The drive is co-chaired by Bach and her husband, Ken, who Valentine said schedule the volunteers.

“It just works so well when we have volunteers who step into leadership roles,” she said.

A different type of system has been set up by Kitty Knowlton at the Barkan Meizlish law firm in the 200 block of Front Street, where a rack of coats can be seen poking into the sidewalk by the firm’s front door.

The rack bears a sing reading, “Need a coat? Take one! Want to help? Leave One!”

“I got the idea from a Facebook post and thought I’d try it — with the bosses’ permission, of course,” she said Tuesday. “I can’t believe it, it’s full all the time. I’ve seen 75 or 80 coats come and go.”

And she has, of course, shared it on Facebook.

Knowlton, who has been with the firm 22 years, said the firm’s clients include people who are disabled.

“I’ve seen them leave coats, saying, ‘Well, I don’t really need this anymore,’ and I’ve seen people pick them up,” she said. “I’ve been really happy about the way this has worked out.”

Coats for Kids

¯ Donation drive continues through Dec. 11.

¯ Coats can be dropped off at: Peoples Bank locations at 138 Putnam St., Second and Scammel streets, the Frontier Shopping Center, 510 and 1902 Washington Blvd. in Belpre, and Ohio 7 in Reno; Kroger, 40 Acme St.; Mancan, 112 Putnam St.; Marietta City Schools, any elementary school and the middle school; Washington State Community College; The Marietta Times, 700 Channel Lane; O’Neill Center, 333 Fourth St.; Washington Electric Cooperative, Inc., 440 Highland Ridge Road.

¯ Coats can be picked up on the main floor of the Dime Bank Building by going in the Second Street entrance on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. — Nov. 30, Dec. 5, Dec. 7, Dec. 12, Dec. 13 (extra day, a Wednesday) and Dec. 14.

¯ Information: Call RSVP of Washington County at 740-373-3107.