Coats for Everyone collecting jackets, winter wear

Darrell Cole
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AMHERST - A group of volunteers is working at a hectic pace to make sure no one goes without a warm coat this winter.
Members of the Poverty Action Committee and other community groups are joining together to collect coats and other winter clothing to be distributed to those in need later this month.
"Coats for Everyone started last year at a Poverty Action Committee meeting when we realized there probably wouldn't be a Coats For Kids program," Colleen Dowe said Thursday while working with Canada World Youth volunteers to sort jackets that have been collected. "We're acting on the belief that no one should have to go without a winter coat."
Dowe said all the jackets collected will go to the Amherst Centre Mall where they will be distributed on Friday prior to the annual Christmas parade.
Last year, about 200 jackets were distributed through the program while Maggie's Place and the Nova Scotia Community College handed out another 100 or so. Some coats were also taken to local schools and given to children needing a coat and some were distributed across the county by the Salvation Army.
To date, Dowe said 300 jackets have been collected and more are needed.
"We've collected quite a few just through e-mails among Poverty Action Committee members and Maggie's Place has collected some. A lady in the Amherst Lioness Club is also collecting from her friends and her group," she said. "We're hoping to get as many as we can."
One of the things the program ran out of quickly last year was adult male coats. Dowe also found many parents making sure their children had coats, but not getting one themselves.
"We want to make sure no one has to go away without a coat," she said. "It sort of hits you when you see parents making sure their children have a coat but going away without one for themselves. We want to make sure everyone who needs a coat gets one."
Rev. Charlotte Ross, who heads the Amherst Food Assistance Network, said the demand for coats and winter clothing is growing.
"We see it quite a bit at the centre. We normally get about 40 or 50 jackets and they just vanish," Ross said. "There are a lot of people out there really struggling to make ends meet. Once they pay for heat, electricity and rent, there isn't much left for anything else."
People with jackets and outer winter wear can contact Dowe at Public Health at 667-3319 or bring them to Maggie's Place Family Resource Centre on Elmwood Drive. They can also be brought to the mall on Friday.
Home Again Dry Cleaners has offered its assistance in washing the coats that have been collected.

Organizations: Nova Scotia Community College, Poverty Action Committee, Coats For Kids Salvation Army Amherst Lioness Club Amherst Food Assistance Network Place Family Resource Centre on Elmwood Drive

Geographic location: AMHERST

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